What David Quinn said about Skjei, Henrik, Kreider, development and more

David Quinn met with reporters on Sunday following his exit interviews with players and said (MSG):

  • “The way our year went was not acceptable, certainly not what we are looking to accomplish, we are looking to play way beyond the regular season. You meet with every individual and go over their season, the good and the bad and what is expected of them next year.”
  • On his expectations for this past season, “we all understood the situation but that doesn’t mean we don’t think we could have had a better season. We felt that there were a lot of games out there that we could have had a better result from, a lot of games we lost with under two minutes to go but the one thing I told this group, and I’ve mentioned this before, very coachable group. People ask me what the biggest surprise was coaching at this level and that would be my number one surprise, how coachable they were, how willing they were to do what we were trying to ask them to do. One of the things we stressed was that we wanted a ‘we’ feeling, the players and coaches to be on the same page, we all want the same thing. They want to be the best players that they can be and we want to be the best team. There is only one way to do it and for the most part these guys were very coachable and tried to do everything we asked them to do.”
  • What did you learn about yourself, “first full season as a head coach…no matter what team you coach, you are learning something about your team every year. There is a learning curve for every coach, certainly more for a new coach when you haven’t coached a group before but putting lines together and d pairings and managing personalities and how to motivate people, it was a big learning curve for the first time. We will have some guys back next year but there will be a lot less of it next year because there will be more familiarity.”
  • On if there will be more comfort for everyone next season, “I think big time, that is one of the things we talked about in our meetings with each player, the familiarity, the expectations, how we want to go about our business and play, there will be a lot more clarity from the get-go and won’t be that learning curve.”
  • On having NHL experience, “there would probably be more nerves involved, nerves in general but once you coach at this level and I was fortunate to also coach in World Championships so I’ve had a lot of experience coaching NHL players, it was never an issue for me with this job. I don’t want to say there was arrogance but I was never nervous, I never wondered what it was going to be like and those experiences made that a lot easier for me.”
  • On young player development, “you really feel that all of these guys are in a better place today than they were when the season started, certainly everyone has noted Buchnevich’s progress, statistics speak for that, it’s probably harder to gauge Lias and Chytil because you don’t have a baseline but Lias Andersson is in a much better position today than he was in September, he’s in much better shape, his game continued to improve, he was a real good PKer by the end of the year and his game came along. He’s 20-years old and I’ve said this a lot, we live in a league where the young player is having a lot of success, not every young player is going to have a lot of success and people grow at different times. Lias is trending in the right direction. I think Fil Chytil had a better year as the season went on, there were some peaks and valleys but he’s 19-years old. I was talking to Mika about him in Minnesota, Mika and I had a long conversation, and we were talking about Fil and told him that in six-years Fil is going to be your age, that is a lot of hockey and I think sometimes people lose sight of how young these guys are.”
  • On developing relationships, “I think that the more time you spend with people the stronger the relationship gets. I don’t think you are going to have great relationships with everybody, that is life but you are going to have a relationship and one of the things we try to do as a staff is spend as much time with a player as possible so that when you have hard conversations and hold them accountable they are probably more receptive to it. Those aren’t the only conversations you are having with them, not the only experiences you are having with them and I think it gives you the opportunity to send them a message that everything you are doing is to make them the best player they can be. Once they understand that you have a lot better chance to make them the player they can be.”
  • On Chris Kreider, “The injury – he and I spoke about this today and he said that he should not have tried to play through it and he was pretty quiet about it to be honest but it was a hard six weeks for everybody. When you make the trades we made and the realization of our situation hit home for a lot of guys, mostly the veterans, the guys that are used to playing in the playoffs, I think it’s human nature where frustration creeps in and maybe your play suffers a little bit. I don’t think he was the only guy that experienced that.”
  • On Henrik Lundqvist’s workload, “Hank and I have talked about that for sure. I’ve said this before, I’m a new coach and Hank has done it this way and this is the way it’s done, he and I have talked about that for sure. Listen, he’s still one of the top goalies in the league and he is a part of our future.”
  • On being young but being better, “these are discussions that Jeff and I and Chris will have moving forward. Our season just ended so I think there are a lot of scenarios that can be drawn up, especially with our draft situation and cap space. It can go in a lot of different ways. I think you can be young and still have success depending on who you surround those young players with.”
  • Do you have to stress that you need more shooters, “that is part of building a roster and any team that didn’t make the playoffs there is uncertainty but no matter who is here we want to have more of a shooting mentality and that is something we have addressed with all of our players in our exit meetings and those decisions will be made depending on what the roster looks like.”
  • Do you think you will name a captain, “again, that is depending on what the roster looks like. The captain usually evolves from what your roster looks like and a guy may have a chance to be a captain on one roster but if your roster takes a different look he may not be your captain. That is a question people have been asking but that will be answered depending on what the roster looks like.”
  • On improving the defense, “It’s a mentality, a want to defend, puck management has to do with that and a lot of the chances we gave up were off of turnovers or poor decisions in all three zones. At the end of the day you have to want to engage in one on one battles, technically be in the right position, stick position, body position and will and desire to defend. Everyone can defend and it’s just how much does it mean to you and that is something we absolutely have to be better at.”
  • On the players self evaluating, “In our meetings there were no surprises, a guy didn’t walk out the door and you’d go ‘oh my lord, can you believe what he just said?’ They were pretty dead on with how we perceived their season to be and how they perceived their season to be.”
  • On Brendan Smith being versatile, “any time you have a player that can play multiple positions, I thought he did a good job up front and when we used him on the PK on defense when he was at forward. Depending on what our roster looks like it will be interesting to see what happens next year. He did himself a lot of good playing like that.”
  • Is it encouraging that everyone is on the same page, “It is encouraging because clarity and understanding what is expected makes it easier to be a good player and I think there is clarity with what we are looking for from each and every one of them and they know what their job is and what is expected.”
  • Do you ask the players for input on their year, “absolutely, that is part of it. I’m curious because self evaluation is a huge part of being a good player, you need to be honest with yourself and if there is a big divide with how we perceive their season to be and how they perceive it then you have trouble. You are not always going to agree on everything when it comes to hockey, it’s very subjective but you can’t have that gap be so big that player thinks ‘A’ and you think ‘C.’ It was good that it seemed like we were all on the same page with how the season went and what was expected of them.”
  • How do all the close games factor in, “It’s part of it and we know we have to be better in OT. I have to do a better job and we have to do a better job of having more of a plan 3 on 3, we did talk about what we wanted to do but probably get more specific with it. As a coach I take responsibility on that and I can promise that next year we will be better from a planning standpoint. Maybe it’s youth and inexperience, not trying to do too much, understanding how to win. Sometimes you need to learn not to lose before you learn how to win and I think that was part of our problem, we weren’t learning how not to lose and we have to manage that balancing act.”
  • What is your plan until the draft, “I’ll be around and I’d love to get involved as much as possible. Those are things we will discuss.”
  • Do you expect the full staff to be back, “yes I do.”
  • Was it a fun year, “listen, if you can’t enjoy being head coach of the New York Rangers you should go pick another profession. I loved every minute of it.”
  • Did you like having Greg Brown upstairs, “I liked having Brownie upstairs, he gave good insight. Four coaches on the bench can be a little much but I liked him there in the third period because he can help too on the ice with managing some things, I like how it was structured.”
  • Did you look at the new analytics the league provided, “not a lot, it was something we would look at and faceoff stuff. We will have a lot more familiarity with it over the summer.”
  • Did you notice a difference in Brady Skjei from the first half to the second, “yes, big difference. He played a much freer game. I think that early on he was carrying the burden of his contract with him and trying to do too much. He certainly acknowledged that in our discussions through the year and at the end of the year and he was in a much better place mentally in the second half, played better hockey and wasn’t trying to do too much and let the game come to him and was going in the direction of being the player he can be. One of the things we talked about was how I think there is a whole new level for him to get to and excited about him next year.”
  • On how defenders develop, “maybe a little longer but you take on different responsibilities in your career. He wants to please so bad and not let people down, I think that was part of his issue early on but he was getting in that wheelhouse where he should reach his prime. He’s built a pretty good foundation for himself and we all think there is another level for him to get to.”
  • On the kind of player Skjei is paired with, “I think that he and Shatty played pretty well together but to have him paired with someone like Adam McQuaid who is rock solid defensively, no non-sense to his game, you know where Adam is going to be shift in and shift out and that probably helped him.”
  • Is Chytil a center or wing, “Center is his natural position but like all young players when they get to this level there is some position changing, sometimes you have to play the wing. Depending on what our roster is going to look like – I think eventually he is going to be a center, it may not be next year, it depends on what our roster looks like.”
  • On Ryan Strome and Lemiuex, “Stromer has been a here a long time but it will be good to have him here from the get go and have him build on what he did this year. Lemieux, being here from the get-go and having the opportunity to be in a different role than he was in in Winnipeg will put him in a different mindset coming to training camp.”
  • On surprises he found as a coach this year, “I’ve mentioned the practice time, I knew that we didn’t have a lot, probably less than I thought it was going to be. People talked about managing the media but you guys have been great, hasn’t been the challenge that everyone said it was but it’s still the honeymoon. Get the body vest out next year and see how that goes. It’s just been, like I said, I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve had a lot of different jobs, each job brings on a new challenge and there are some surprises with every job you take and this was no different but for the most part it was pretty much what I thought it would be.”
  • On the World Championships, “I think it’s an incredible opportunity to grow as a player no matter how old you are. It’s 3 1/2 weeks before you leave so there is enough down time for a guy to rest a little and still prepare. As I told our guys, you are hockey players, why wouldn’t you go play hockey, you will get plenty of time off and you can represent your country, you can win and those things are valuable experiences and apply them to next year. I want all of our guys to go, as much as possible, unless there are physical issues and go have success.”
  • On creating an identity, “we did make strides in how we want to play and there is another level for us to get too I feel, our guys understand how we want to play. We don’t want to be the broad street bullies but we we want to have snarl to our game, physical edge to it. I just think that is essential if you are going to have success, not just in the regular season but in the playoffs for sure. We all watch playoff hockey and you better put your big boy pants on, it’s big boy hockey. Not everyone has that in their DNA but you have to bring as much out of it in each player and I thought some of our guys did a real good job.”
  • On what they got from Georgiev, “yes, very. Like I said, I’m not surprised he played the way he did.”