Believe it or not, one thing that the New York Rangers have done right over the last decade or so has been hiring the right coaches.
The hiring of John Tortorella during the 2008-09 season was a solid one. He instilled responsibility, solid two-way hockey, accountability, and the right way to do things. The Blueshirts made the postseason four out of the five years that Torts was behind the bench. His best season was 2011-12 when the team got to the Eastern Conference Finals—but they lost to the New Jersey Devils in six games.
After Torts was let go following the 2012-13 strike-shortened season, Alain Vigneault came in and helped the team become one of the most consistent teams in the league for the next few seasons. He was relaxed behind the bench, let the players do their thing, and because of it, they ended up being successful, even without winning the Cup. Under Vigneault, the team made it to the Cup Final in 2014, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. The following season, they were the best team in the league and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.
After the club let go of Vigneault following last season, the team went out and hired a younger coach in Boston University’s David Quinn. While he didn’t have any experience as an NHL head coach prior to this season, he has shown that he is the perfect coach for this hockey team. Quinn has done a great job of handling this club so far.
For starters, he has held them accountable. Guys like Kevin Shattenkirk, Filip Chytil, Brendan Smith, Pavel Buchnevich have all been healthy scratches at one point or another this season because they have not played the right way. Quinn realizes that every player makes mistakes—but, when you’re not playing within his system or you’re making the same mistakes over and over again, he puts that particular player up in the press box in order to learn from it.
Quinn has also given plenty of opportunities to the team’s younger players. Chytil, Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo, Brett Howden, Lias Andersson, Libor Hajek, Brendan Lemieux, and Boo Nieves have all gotten a bunch of playing time and, for the most part, he’s allowed them to play a respectable number of games.
He has also helped them make them a competitive team this year. (Yes, I realize that they are more than likely not going to make the playoffs, but nevertheless.) This club has not given up, has played hard every single night, and has been in most games up to this point.
In Quinn, the Rangers have themselves the perfect coach for this rebuild.