How About David Quinn as a Blackhawks Head Coach Candidate?

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How About David Quinn as a Blackhawks Head Coach Candidate?

Chicago Blackhawks

As the Blackhawks’ offseason continues, and fans keep waiting for the organization to do something, the new front office is preparing for the draft in July and formulating a profile for their next head coach.

So … Who could be the next head coach of the Blackhawks?

We have looked at two potential candidates already: Tampa assistant Derek Lalonde and Toronto assistant Spencer Carbery. Each has a unique resume with experience at a number of levels, but neither has been a head coach at the NHL level. And that has been something pointed out in our comments here and on social media, and by others who want the Hawks to have someone who has run the show in the NHL previously.

So let’s now turn our attention to someone who has been a head coach in the NHL: David Quinn.

Experience

Quinn has a resume featuring success at multiple levels, much like Lalonde and Carbery. But he’s also been a head coach in the NHL, recently serving as the bench boss of the New York Rangers. And the comments from the Rangers, when he was initially hired, speak to how his experience prepared him for that role.

“David brings a diverse and successful coaching resume that includes extensive work in developing young talent,” Rangers owner James Dolan said in 2018 when the Rangers announced hiring Quinn.

The comments from then-Rangers GM Jeff Gorton are more on point with what the Blackhawks may be looking for in their next head coach.

“In a coaching career that has spanned over two decades at the collegiate, pro and international level, David has helped his teams achieve success while simultaneously teaching the game and helping his players develop on and off the ice,” Gorton said in 2018. “He is the ideal choice to bring our loyal and passionate fans the winning hockey they deserve.”

We could honestly cut and paste that statement from Gorton and replace his name with Kyle Davidson and run it if the Hawks hire Quinn.

Quinn, who will turn 55 at the end of July, played at Boston University and was a coach there for two periods, once as an associate and then as the head coach for five years. He led BU to four NCAA tournament appearances in five seasons, including a trip to the national title game in 2015. During his tenure as the head coach at BU he coached future NHL players including Jack Eichel, Brady Tkachuk, Jake Oettinger, Clayton Keller, Charlie McAvoy, Kieffer Bellows and Evan Rodrigues. He also coached former Blackhawks prospect Chad Krys.

Quinn also spent three years as the head coach of the Lake Erie Monsters in the AHL and spent the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season as an assistant on Joe Sacco’s staff with the Colorado Avalanche.

He replaced Alain Vigneault in New York and spent three seasons as the head coach of the Rangers, making the playoffs once. When Gorton (and others) were replaced in the front office of the Rangers after the 2020-21 season, new Rangers GM Chris Drury brought in Gerard Gallant as the new head coach.

Handling a rebuild

The Rangers hired Quinn in the wake of sending a letter to their fans letting the world know they were entering a rebuild. That came just four short years after they were in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. By the time Quinn took over in 2018, the only player left on the Rangers’ roster from that conference championship roster was Chris Kreider.

He was handed a few high picks — Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière — and helped cultivate other young players including Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Fox. Fox was acquired from Carolina for a couple second-round picks near the end of the 2018-19 season and grew into the player who won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in Quinn’s final season.

Kreider’s comments at the end of the 2020-21 season are also words we would like to hear from a coach in Chicago.

“I think the group really came together over the course of the year,” Kreider told reporters at the end of the 2020-21 season. “Youngest team in hockey, a lot of new faces, lot of new guys stepping into roles and positions they may not have been in the past. I think the entire year was a terrific learning experience.”

Many Rangers fans view Gallant as an upgrade from Quinn, but give Quinn — and Gorton — a lot of credit for helping cultivate the talent on the roster into a team that is now in the Eastern Conference Final.

Quinn may have been a bridge coach with the Rangers, but that experience with a young roster in transition could prove to be enormously beneficial in a second job as a head coach in the NHL. And that job could be in a similar situation in Chicago.



Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab