One thing that Bob Boughner always seemed to have as head coach of the San Jose Sharks?
He had the allegiance of captain Logan Couture and alternate captain Brent Burns, through three consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, the Evander Kane fiasco, various COVID tribulations, and more.
“I’ve always had a special relationship with Boogie,” Burns shared in his last media availability as a member of the Sharks. “I’ve always said that he’s done a really good job of going from when he was our D-coach to a head job, the communication and the way he can handle a room.”
Couture, famously, chirped the Florida Panthers when they fired Boughner three years ago.
— Logan Couture (@Logancouture) April 7, 2019
Burns and Couture, of course, knew Boughner, then a Sharks assistant coach, from the group’s Stanley Cup Final run in 2016, before he became their head coach in Dec. 2019. Two-and-a-half years later, Boughner was sacked on Jul. 1, days before San Jose announced Mike Grier as their new GM.
New San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn may not be afforded that type of allegiance from his team’s veterans, at least not from the get-go.
The only Sharks player who has significant experience with Quinn is Nick Bonino: They won the national championship in 2009 at Boston University when Quinn was associate head coach. Two-time Stanley Cup winner Bonino and his voice does carry some weight in the San Jose room.
Will Quinn be able to get the other Sharks veterans to buy in?
For what it’s worth, “buy in” can only get you so far – Boughner’s Sharks missed the post-season by an average of 14.3 points in each of the last three years. This is actually a generous figure, because the 2019-20 season featured a 24-team play-in tournament, that San Jose missed by “just” nine points.
It’s a pertinent question for Quinn though, because of how his New York Rangers’ tenure was said to have ended.
“It has, however, been clear for months that the high-end players and Quinn do not see the game the same way,” Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote on May 3, 2021. “But more consequential than that, it has also been clear that the high-end players have had little if any interest in changing their approach in order to accommodate the coach.
“There have been points this year when [Ryan] Strome, who at times goes into a stream of consciousness doing Zoom interviews and should be applauded for adding candor to the mix, has talked about how the talented players’ shoot-last mentality should not be second guessed.
“Maybe there is simply too much literal looking over the players’ shoulders [by Quinn].”
On May 9, Brooks said of new Rangers GM Chris Drury, “The team’s high-profile players will have their say about life under David Quinn. Their input could be critical if Drury enters the meetings undecided about the fate of the head coach, who is three-fifths of the way through his five-year contract.”
Three days later, Drury fired his long-time friend Quinn.
Rangers beat writer Vince Mercogliano of USA Today saw things much the same way as Brooks.
A couple days ago, I spoke with Mercogliano about the facts and myths surrounding Quinn’s much-maligned handling of the Rangers’ youngsters.
After chatting with Mercogliano, I came away unconcerned with how Quinn will deal with top San Jose Sharks prospects like William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau and company. It seemed to me that Quinn maintained a high standard for his youngsters, and by and large, they were the better for it. That includes, yes, Alexis Lafreniere and Kappo Kakko.
But I do have some reservations with how Quinn will mesh with some of the Sharks’ vets.
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