David Quinn believes the San Jose Sharks’ record should have been better, especially through mid-January.
The flipside of those heartbreaking losses and close calls – the Sharks were second in the NHL with 16 overtime/shootout losses – get him excited about next year.
“We have to not forget, really focus on the first [part of the season], probably through the middle of January before we started making changes, what that looked like, when we weren’t auditioning players,” Quinn said during his exit interview today. “A play here, a play there, and we’re in a different situation. Where if you look at some of the other teams that are in the lottery around us in the standings, it didn’t look that way. So that’s why I’m optimistic. Some of those other teams don’t have Karlsson, Couture, Hertl. Vlasic, Ferraro, guys like that, that are great building blocks.”
Of course, the San Jose Sharks may not have Erik Karlsson for long, if GM Mike Grier trades the probable 2023 Norris Trophy winner, as has been rumored.
Quinn talks about keeping Karlsson, which youngsters impressed him most this season, what Tomas Hertl needs to work on this summer, and more.
These are the highlights of Quinn’s exit interview, see his full interview here
David Quinn, on if the San Jose Sharks will keep Erik Karlsson:
I sure the hell hope so. Obviously, there’s all that type of speculation — he’s here until he’s not.
I mean, this is pro sports, and after every season, you could go to any locker room and reporters are probably asking the coach and the general manager if this guy will be here or not. Wayne Gretzky got traded, anybody can get traded.
But listen, he’s, from a coaching standpoint, everything you want in a player. He was incredible in the locker room, was great to coach, and I hope he goes nowhere.
Quinn, on if Marc-Edouard Vlasic campaigned to play with Karlsson next year:
Did you hear about the +1? (laughs) It’s a real reach wanting to play with a 100-point defenseman.
Vlasic campaigned to play w/ Karlsson next year, reporting that he & EK65 were +1 in their time together to end season: "If he was +1 after 8-and-a-half games, imagine what it would be at, at 82 games?"
The campaign reached Quinn, who asked us, "Did you hear about the +1?"
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 15, 2023
Quinn, on Vlasic’s season:
From my end of it, you take a job, and you hear all these things about players, right? You’re asking.
From day one, I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed being around someone more than him. He’s been a great teammate. He’s been very coachable. He’s been a pro. He’s worked hard, defended well.
This guy still has good hockey left in him and that’s not necessarily what you were hearing last year and the year before and the year before. I’ve been really happy with him, and I thought he had a really good year.
Quinn, on what San Jose Sharks need to improve most:
When we had everybody [earlier in the season] and what we’re looking for, we’ve got to get our pucks out. I think things in the backend, moving pucks quicker and better, being more efficient in our breakouts, execution on our breakouts, and puck play from our D corps has to improve dramatically.
I think our grit and compete has to improve. Pushback, and I don’t mean fighting, just more pushback.
Quinn, on what he saw from William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Jacob Peterson, and other San Jose Sharks prospects to end the season:
Growth on all three of those guys. I thought Bordy’s game, the last game, was his best game, since being called up. I liked all of Eklund’s games, for the most part. Peterson, from my end of it, was a pleasant surprise. He did a good job. And then Thrun. Thrun stepped in and really played well. I think Mike’s done a really good job in a short time improving our talent pool and our depth with prospects.
Quinn, on if Peterson, Henry Thrun, and Noah Gregor, based on their performances this season, have a head start toward spots in the line-up next year:
Yeah, for sure. Now there’s a familiarity from my end.
[Gregor] had a much better second half of the season, his last two months were good. He and I have talked about handling adversity, and I thought he did a much better job the last two months.
He was a player that I think we all know [what] he’s capable of being. As I always jokingly say, “Someday, I hope you think you’re as good as I think you are.”
You may not see that when the coach had scratched you 20-plus times this year, but that’s part of growing as a player. Those guys, obviously, their performance this year puts them in a different situation when next year starts.
Quinn, on Kevin Labanc’s season:
He and I just talked, we just met. He and I both agree it was a very inconsistent season for him. There were stretches that I really liked and there were stretches I didn’t like. He knows. The good news, he and I are on the same page on what he needs to do to be the player we all think he’s capable of being. I don’t want to get into specifics, but it was a tough year for him away from the rink for a variety of reasons. He knows I’m aware of that, I’m certainly sympathetic to that.
Quinn, on both primary goalies having a save % under .900:
Listen, it is what it is. Those numbers are real and that plays a role in it, for sure.
The goalies, they were frustrated with their play for stretches. That is part of being a successful hockey team. When you look at our team, you look at all three positions, and you got to evaluate them honestly, our goaltending needs to be better.
I think these guys are good goalies. That doesn’t mean you’re looking to go out and change them.
Our goaltending needs to be better. We need to defend better.
Mid-January, we did a deep dive into our goals against and the No. 1 reason we were given up goals is because of offensive zone turnovers, which turned into crazy odd-man rushes. It wasn’t plays at the offensive blue line. It wasn’t crazy pinches and dives, it was all O-zone turnovers that cost us. They accounted for about 35 percent of the scoring chances against. Our D-zone play was the last reason why we were giving up scoring chances.
Puck management and skill also played a factor into playing defense because when you’re turning pucks over, you’re on offense, and all of a sudden, you have to play defense and it’s tough to get into structure when you’re giving up turnovers.
Quinn, on whose confidence and/or maturity increased most in season:
I thought Lorentz probably made the biggest jump. I thought Lorentz’s last two months were really good. I thought Vlasic’s confidence continued to grow. Obviously, Karlsson played at a whole new level. Sturmy, Peterson, a bunch of guys played with more confidence as the season went on.
Quinn, on Tomas Hertl’s season:
There’s not a better human being playing in the National Hockey League than Tomas Hertl. Sometimes, that’s a problem because he wears everything on his sleeve and when there’s a mistake or he feels like he let someone down, it really weighs on him. It slows him down.
So confidence is part of it with him. When he lets something, he lets a bad play get in the way.
He’s got a lot of great hockey ahead of him.
He was frustrated with his inconsistencies. He and I touched on the two areas he absolutely has to get better at. He knows it. He’s gonna work on it. And I think we’re gonna see a much more consistent player next year.
Quinn, on Hertl needing to improve his speed?
It was funny, I talked to him about that. I mean, when you don’t skate, you don’t look fast. He needs to skate more. I think he’s a better skater than he gives himself credit for and other people do too.
There’s a lot of times when he’s not skating, so he looks slow. And he can skate.
I said to him, “You don’t give yourself enough credit because you don’t skate enough.” That’s an area that he’s certainly going to be cognizant of this summer.
Quinn, on if Hertl needs to step up his conditioning:
He and I talked about that too. As the season gets going, in this league, you either get in better shape in games or you don’t, because there’s only so much practice time we have. The more you skate in games, the better shape you get in as the season goes on, and that’s something that he and I talked about as well.
Quinn, on Mario Ferraro’s performance this year:
Mario and I talked a lot today.
People lose track of the fact he’s 24 years old and there’s been a lot thrown at him in a short period of time, and he’s not immune to all the other challenges of a 24-year-old. The contract and different partners he had all year. He puts a lot of pressure on himself. We don’t have any more caring, competitive player than we do in Mario.
He and I had a long conversation today, following up some of the conversations we had during the year, of just relaxing a little bit more and not trying to do too much. He does it because he wants us to do so well. I’d much rather have that than someone who’s trying to do too much for their own individual reasons.
Quinn, on if he’s concerned at all about how much Ferraro plays:
Well, for it to come down a little bit, then we have more depth.
He’s capable of playing [that much] and he’s in great shape. He takes great care of himself. So I’m not worried about that.
Quinn, on how Oskar Lindblom can be better:
Well, a year under his belt here and more comfort and just being in a different environment. Another year under his belt after coming off what he’s been through in his life.
I think his ceiling can be a third-line guy. He understands what he needs to do to get there. More consistent, more confident with the puck.
Quinn, on his summer plans after coaching Team USA at the World Championships:
Gonna take a little time away. Building a house in Westerly, Rhode Island. Make sure the construction people don’t screw that up. Play a lot of golf. Already looking forward to next year. One day of rest is enough for me.
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