SAN JOSE — David Quinn was introduced as the newest head coach of the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, completing a search for a new bench boss by general manager Mike Grier that had ramped up over the last two weeks.
Quinn, 55, is the 10th full-time head coach in Sharks history and takes over a team that has missed the postseason for a franchise-record three straight seasons. Quinn takes over from Bob Boughner, who was fired on June 30, roughly two months after the team finished a 32-37-13 regular season.
The official announcement came at a news conference at SAP Center. It’s a return to the NHL bench for Quinn, who spent the last year coaching Team USA in the Olympics and in the World Championships after being fired by the New York Rangers at the end of the 2020-21 season.
“He’s had a lot of experience at many different levels,” Grier said. “I think you see the job he did with the group he had at the Olympics and at the World Championships, he got a ton out of those players. I think everyone will agree neither one of those teams were highly skilled teams — I think the Olympic team was the youngest team in the tournament and they went undefeated through the preliminary round.”
Both Quinn and Grier played under Jack Parker at Boston University — Quinn in the 1980s and Grier a decade later, winning a national championship in 1994-95. While Grier said it didn’t factor into the decision directly and that Quinn was “the best candidate” for the job, the connection was a “cherry on top” to Grier. And while any NHL head coaching position is attractive, Quinn said his longtime ties from him to Grier helped him want this specific job.
Quinn was the head coach at his alma mater until 2018, when the New York Rangers hired him to be their head coach. He was fired after three seasons, only making the playoffs eleven. I have highlighted the management of personalities as a key takeaway from his first NHL head coaching job.
“To me, the number one responsibility I have as a coach here is managing the players, putting them in a position to have the most success they possibly can and making them the best players they can possibly be,” Quinn said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to be hard on them, and sometimes, you’ll lay off them. I think you’re always trying to find that balance as a coach.”
Grier said he believes that NHL coaches are generally better in their second chance at the job than in their first gig.
“I think he’s a better coach for that Ranger experience. We have some great personalities on our team. Look at the guys he had to deal with in New York, (Artemi) Panarin was third in the MVP ballot when he was coaching, Adam Fox won the Norris,” Grier said.
“(Quinn) gets the most out of his best players, he knows how to manage his best players and he believes in some of the player development principles that I believe in. When I put it all together, he was really the best choice for this job.”
Grier has previously said the team may need to take a step back in order to go forward, a path that Grier seemed to help execute when he traded longtime Sharks defenseman Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes.
But Quinn pointed out that the Sharks were still in the hunt for a playoff spot last season’s trade deadline before San Jose collapsed down the stretch and referenced batting for a playoff spot multiple times – which, in Grier’s eyes, matches his own expectation.
“I’m a competitive person, David’s a competitive person, and we’re gonna go out and try to win every game and see where we land,” Grier said. “It’s a tough conference, and there’s a lot of good teams out there. So we’re going to push and try to make the playoffs. If we don’t, we’re gonna know we were competitive all season long … If we’re not quite there yet, we’re not quite there yet.
“The goal is to win every night, to be as competitive as we can and kind of let the chips fall where they are.”
The new bench boss is here.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) July 26, 2022
Quinn added, “I think a lot of the answers are in that locker room. If we can get everybody to be just a little bit better. We’re not asking a guy to go from five goals to 40, we’re not asking a guy to do things he’s not capable of doing, but what we want everybody to do is do the things they can do just a little bit better . If you’ve got 23 people being 5-10% better, that’s the difference between making the playoffs and not.”
The Sharks begin the regular season with two games against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 7 and 8 at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. The first regular season home game is Oct. 14 against Burns and the Hurricanes.