On Feb. 8, 2018, the New York Rangers sent a letter to their fans announcing they were rebuilding, and three months later David Quinn was anointed to coach the retooling effort.
Quinn’s tenure lasted three seasons before he was replaced by Gerard Gallant, whose first season saw the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals in an electrifying postseason run last spring.
After a year away Quinn is off to a rough start with his new team and makes his return to New York when the San Jose Sharks attempt to halt an ugly season-opening, five-game skid Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Quinn was 96-87-25 in 208 regular-season games with the Rangers, who hired him to follow Alain Vigneault’s tenure that saw a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and a trip to the conference finals in 2015.
Quinn’s only playoff appearance resulted in three losses in the qualifying round to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Toronto bubble in 2020 when the playoff field was expanded to 12 teams after a four-month COVID-19 pause.
At the time of the pause, the Rangers were in the midst of going 14-7-1 to get into playoff contention while transitioning from Henrik Lundqvist to Igor Shesterkin in goal and enjoying the first season of Artemi Panarin. When the league played a 56-game season and the Rangers lost seven of their final 11 games, Quinn was fired along with general manager Jeff Gorton and president John Davidson.
After Quinn was axed, Gallant guided the Rangers to 52 wins, seven-game wins over Pittsburgh and Carolina in the first two rounds before losing a six-game series to Tampa Bay.
“He did a good job with them,” Gallant said of Quinn’s tenure Tuesday. “I got them, they weren’t close to being a finished product but they’re improving every year and that’s what you want. It takes time, but last year they made big strides with our team.”
After sitting out last season, Quinn was hired by the Sharks on July 26 in an attempt to revive a team that has missed the postseason in three straight seasons while not finishing with more than 77 points.
So far, the Sharks are being outscored 19-8. In Tuesday’s visit to the New York Islanders, San Jose center Nico Sturm scored the game’s first goal and Evgeny Svechnikov netted the tying goal late in the second before the Sharks suffered their second straight 5-2 loss.
“One thing about this game, it rewards honesty,” Quinn said. “We’re honest at times, but we’re not honest enough. And that’s something we got to learn, and we got to get out of this rut by playing a little bit more honest.”
The Sharks have been outscored 18-2 in the second and third periods.
“Obviously, there’s not a lot of confidence right now,” Sturm said.
New York has scored 17 goals in winning three of its first four games and has seen Panarin and Mike Zibanejad get off to quick starts.
Panarin collected a goal and three assists in Monday’s 6-4 win over Anaheim, giving him 10 points (two goals and eight assists). Zibanejad scored twice for the second time this season and collected two assists, giving him eight points (four goals, four assists).
–Field Level Media