Sharks May Have Found Their Rebound Coach in David Quinn

After hiring Mike Grier as the new general manager (GM) of the San Jose Sharks, the team spent the last month searching for a head coach. Bob Boughner was relieved of his position on July 1, which left them with a small pool of previous coaches to choose from. While they could have taken a chance on a first-time coach, all signs pointed to the Sharks looking to bring in a veteran. Then, on July 26, they announced that they had hired David Quinn, a seasoned vet who had previously been part of the New York Rangers coaching staff before they decided to move on from him.

Related: Sharks Hire Mike Grier as New General Manager

So, with the GM and coaching decisions made, a new question must be asked. Will Quinn be able to bring the Sharks back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Quinn’s Questionable Tenure With the Rangers

Despite the Rangers being one of the most promising young teams in the NHL, Quinn was behind their bench during their growth period. As a result, he obtained a 97-87-25 record as head coach. Each season he coached the team, the players managed to mesh more and more. Unfortunately, he did not get to stay long enough to see them push their way into the playoffs.

David Quinn New York Rangers
David Quinn, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While Quinn maintained a winning record with the Rangers, whether or not the growth of the team was his doing or a result of a large depth pool is currently unclear. There is no doubt that a team can only be as good as the coach in charge of them, but he was notoriously unable to pull the full potential out of Alexis Lafreniere in his last season as head coach. The players were getting better, but the Rangers realized Quinn would not be the guy to lead them to a new era of success.

With the Sharks, Quinn will have substantially less material to work with, as young players like William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau will only be playing in their first NHL season. However, those two are the only ones likely to make it full-time with the team. If he does not have the talent around him that he had with the Rangers, he may not be able to grow the team in the same fashion.

Sharks Roster Continues to Age

While some youth will take center stage with the Sharks this season, the team’s core is continuing to age. Brent Burns was sent to Carolina, but Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Timo Meier are all returning to San Jose. Meier and Hertl are still in their prime, but the rest of the team is starting to show signs of regression. As a result, Quinn could find it challenging to help the core find their game again.

Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks scores a goal against Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – MAY 13: Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks scores a goal against Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 13, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

While Karlsson had a better season last year than the year prior, the rest of the team is steadily declining. If Quinn wants to get the team back into the playoffs, he needs to get a few more years of good hockey out of the veterans. In addition, Oskar Lindblom could bounce back with the Sharks, but he will need the assistance of the core to find his game again. As such, the new bench boss will need to get the team energized to get all the pieces to fit together.

Related: Sharks Should Entertain a Timo Meier Trade

While at first, finding a way to de-age the core seems like an impossible task, Quinn has successfully pulled this mission off with the Rangers. Mika Zibanejad experienced the best years of his career under Quinn, who clearly was able to utilize him to his full potential. Even after his departure, Zibanejad found something that changed his outlook entirely during those years. This makes it seem a bit more possible that the Sharks’ core could rebound with him behind the bench.

Whether or not Quinn will be the coach to bring the Sharks back to the playoffs largely depends on what Grier does to bolster the youth in the coming years. He has enough tools to create a decent team, but the stars need to align perfectly to fix the team’s gaping holes internally. For now, Sharks fans should just be happy that the team has a chance to change their direction this season.