When it comes to sitting star players in the NHL, that is something that never used to happen.
Years ago, if a team’s star player was playing poorly, he would remain in the lineup because of what the team was paying him. Back then, it’s as if the star player was in charge of the team rather than the GM or head coach.
Fast forward to now and things have changed in a big way. New York Rangers new bench boss David Quinn proved this point last week by scratching defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
Shattenkirk is one of the team’s highest-paid players, but he certainly has not shown that so far since being signed to a lucrative free agent contract in the summer of 2017. Quinn noticed that the 29-year-old blueliner was struggling to start this year so he decided to sit him for their team’s game on October 11 against the San Jose Sharks?
The result has been a much better Shattenkirk. Quinn gave him a lot of minutes in his team’s 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on October 16 and Shattenkirk went out and had two assists and scored the game-winning shootout goal.
In that same game, Quinn scratched forward Pavel Buchnevich. Coming into the season, Buchnevich, 23, was expected to take a big step and be one of the team’s most consistent players.
That has not been the case for the Russian forward in the early going. While he does have 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist) in six games, it’s his play in other areas of the game that are concerning.
There have been times when it has looked like Buchnevich has not worked hard at certain times during the game. There have also been times where he has looked frustrated when things are not going his way in a given game.
Quinn noticed these things and decided to sit him against the Avalanche. However, what separates Quinn from the team’s former coach Alain Vigneault is that he did not hesitate to put Buchnevich back in the lineup the very next game.
It is clear that Quinn is going to make sure his players play the game with the right effort and commitment every night. He is going to hold players accountable and is not going to let them coast through the season if they are not playing the way they are supposed to.
What’s also great is that for both Quinn and the players, it is a learning process that is based on respect. Quinn clearly wants his guys to succeed, but sometimes to do so, tough decisions need to be made for the betterment of the team.
It’s a new time on Broadway and with Quinn manning the bench, the Blueshirts will be in good shape moving forward.
Photo: Buffalo News