New Rangers coach David Quinn calls a timeout for some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: Describe the ideal David Quinn hockey player.
A: Someone who plays at a pace … someone who’s physically and mentally tough … someone who is committed, not only at the rink but away from the rink. It’s a big piece of being successful in our sport, especially at this level. And someone who’s all about the team.
Q: What is your definition of mental toughness?
A: When adversity strikes, you can fight through it. You have a bad shift, can you stop it [from becoming] a second bad shift?
Q: What is your definition of physical toughness?
A: Someone who can take a hit to make a play.
Q: What won’t you tolerate?
Q: Will you have rules?
A: Give me an honest effort every night. Every day and every night as a player. Be attentive, and give me an honest effort mentally and physically every day.
Q: Are you a disciplinarian?
A: Yes … the son of a cop (laugh).
Q: What is your motivational style?
A: I think it pertains to what player you’re dealing with. Everybody gets motivated differently. I think you’ve got to be a little bit of a chameleon as a coach in that regard, that you’ve got to know your players and you’ve got to know what motivates them.
Q: Can you give me an example of you as a demanding coach?
A: You want me to use [Kevin] Shattenkirk as an example (laugh)? I had Shattenkirk in the American League, and things weren’t going well, and he just wasn’t doing the things he needed to do, play at the pace he needed to play at. He was about 13 games into his American League career, and we had a game in Austin, Texas, and he had a really bad night. The next day I handed him the DVD and I said, “You’re not playing tonight.” I said, “And part of your problem is self-evaluation. You’ve got to figure out why you’re not playing, I can’t keep telling you.” And, he ended up watching the video, came back to my office two hours later and said, “I can’t believe how bad I’ve been.” And after that, he might have been the best player in the American Hockey League and got called up and never looked back.
Q: You want to play fast and physical. What is physical on the ice?
A: Getting to people quickly and making them uncomfortable, because sometimes the size disadvantage isn’t going to allow you to be physical on everybody. So if I’m 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, and I’m going up against someone 6-4, 225, I don’t want you wasting energy and trying to be physical with somebody who you’re going to lose the battle no matter what. If you’ve got the ability to be actually physical with them, do it.
A: Fast is skating fast, it’s playing fast, it’s going from one play to the next, it’s being alert, being swivel-headed. … When there’s a turnover, how quickly are you pursuing the puck to cause turnovers and create an uncomfortable feeling for the other team?
Q: Who are coaches in other sports you admire?
A: [Celtics coach] Brad Stevens. I just love how he carries himself. He’s confident, not egotistical. He’s demanding but fair. Those are traits that I try to have in my coaching style. And the players love playing for him.
Q: Any others?
A: Bruce Bochy for the San Francisco Giants. I just love baseball and they’ve done a heckuva job — over the last 10 years they’ve won three World Series and they’ve always been in the mix. I’ve got a friend that knows him well and speaks very highly of him. Just from afar I just love the way he’s managed his teams. He’s got a firmness to him, but he’s got a fairness to him. He’s demanding and the players love playing for him. To me, that’s a great combination as a coach.
Q: Anybody else?
A: [Bill] Belichick obviously is a football genius. He takes emotion out of it, which I don’t think can work in other sports because that sport is so cutthroat from the contract perspective. I don’t think he can do that in other sports. But I just have an awful lot of respect and admiration for the way he goes about doing his business, and sticking to his convictions. … I’ve always loved [Spurs coach] Gregg Popovich. Same characteristic as those guys. He’s got a little bit more of a personality with the media — he can be entertaining.
Q: He doesn’t have your personality …
A: (Laugh) No, that’s why he’s lasted so long.
Q: What is your personality? How would you describe you?
A: I think I’m comfortable with myself. I enjoy people. I’m direct. I like people. I like communicating, I like talking to people, and I like being honest with people.
Q: What is your definition of leadership?
A: Leadership is someone who puts the team above himself, who’s willing to do other things to help other players be better. Someone who is committed to what the message the coach is sending, and delivers that message.
Q: Do you have any favorite inspirational sayings or slogans?
A: You are what you repeatedly do.
Q: Why does that one appeal to you?
A: Because I think in sports, consistency and reliability is everything. And I think “you are what you repeatedly do” addresses that.
Q: How do you deal with stress?
A: I signed up for this. This is a stressful profession, I don’t care what level you’re coaching. My stress level hasn’t changed whether I was an assistant in the NHL, a head coach in the American League, coaching the national program, coaching BU — it’s all the same. It’s all the same.
Q: How do you deal with it,though?
A: I surround myself with people that help me deal with it — my assistant coaches, the staff, people I like being around. That’s a big piece in managing stress.
Q: A glass of wine maybe?
A: A glass of wine never hurts. Working out — I love to go for a run when things are stressful.
Q: If you could pick the brain of one hockey coach in history, who would it be?
A: Scotty Bowman.
Q: Tell me why.
A: His success is unparalleled in our game. He’s coached at different levels at different times … different types of teams. He’s arguably the greatest coach in hockey history.
Q: If you could coach one player in hockey history, who would it be?
A: Bobby Orr. I’m a ’66 birth date, so I caught him toward the tail end. I was more Ray Bourque than I was Bobby Orr.
Q: What was so amazing about Orr?
A: Any time he stepped on the ice he controlled the whole game. All eyes drew to Bobby Orr.
Q: Was that similar to the way you were as a player?
A: (Laugh) Hardly. People turned away when I stepped on the ice!
Q: You were a first-round pick, though — 13th overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1984. Describe yourself as a player.
A: I could skate. I was physical, dependable. I could make an outlet pass.
Q: What was draft day like for you?
A: It was crazy, because back then, there weren’t a lot of high-school guys getting drafted. I remember going up to the draft in Montreal, and I was sitting in a section with my parents and Jack Parker. And in the section next to me were all the major junior guys. And I remember when I got my name called and I got up to walk down, I could see all the major junior guys: “Who the hell’s this guy from Kent, Conn.?” (Laugh).
Q: What was your scariest moment as a hemophiliac?
A: In ’87 when I sprained my ankle playing basketball, which really ended my career, I had such internal bleeding in my leg — they call it compartment syndrome. I got rushed to the hospital, I had surgery. The surgery was so bad that they had to leave the wound open, I had to heal from the inside, I was in the hospital for five weeks. I almost bled to death. That was pretty scary.
Q: You signed a waiver at BU to keep playing even after you learned you had Christmas disease. What did your parents think?
A: The thought was I’d been a hemophiliac my whole life, and I had survived football, hockey to a certain degree. … Maybe I can do this. After I signed the waiver, I played my junior year and that’s when the injury happened.
Q: What are your three favorite BU memories?
A: No. 1 would be winning the national championship as an assistant coach in ’09. No. 2 would be winning the Hockey East Championship in 1986 as a player, the school’s first Hockey East Championship. And No. 3 would be beating Minnesota-Duluth to go to the Frozen Four my second year as a head coach.
Q: Never realizing your Olympic dream.
A: That probably hurt more at the time than not having a chance to play in the National Hockey League, because when I had to quit for good in ’87, that was when the Olympic tour was going on and the Olympics were so close. It was eight months away from when I had to quit. We were going to have a good team, with Leetchie [Brian Leetch] and Mike Richter and Kevin Stevens and Scott Young and all those guys on that team. Really a huge void in my life.
Q: The Miracle on Ice.
A: I had watched BU win the national championship in Providence in ’78, so I kind of became a BU fan. Obviously that game, it was on tape delay, and I remember being over a friend’s house watching it — I was actually over [former Islanders coach] Jack Capuano’s house watching it, we played youth hockey together. That was probably the first time I felt that level of excitement and angst watching a hockey game.
Q: What do you recall about the ’94 Rangers, when Mark Messier lifted the Cup?
A: I was watching at home. It was special for me because Mike Richter and Brian Leetch, I played with them on the ’86 World Junior Team, we won a bronze medal, first medal that the U.S. had ever won in the World Junior Tournament. We’re the same age, and I’ve known Brian Leetch since he was a teenager. Actually I showed him around the Kent School when he came to look at prep schools. It was just exciting for hockey in general, I don’t care if you were a New York Ranger fan or not. It was a magical moment in hockey, I don’t care whether you were a New York Ranger fan or not.
Q: As a Red Sox fan, who ticked you off more: Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone?
A: Bucky Dent (laugh).
Q: What do you recall about that day in 1978?
A: I couldn’t wait to get home from school. I sat in my den by myself. Got some Graham crackers and some peanut butter and some milk and watched the game like it was life or death.
Q: It turned out to be death.
A: It turned out to be death (laugh).
Q: And Boone?
A: I was actually coaching a game during that game, so I didn’t get to see that.
Q: Are you going to visit with him?
A: I know where he is. Yeah, I’ll find him (laugh).
Q: What will you say to him?
A: Ask him some questions about his first go at it coaching in New York.
Q: Who were your favorite Red Sox?
A: Freddy Lynn was my guy.
Q: Any Yankees-Red Sock brawls come to mind?
A: Yeah, the [Don] Zimmer-Pedro [Martinez] one was pretty classic. I was actually watching the [Thurman] Munson-[Bill] Lee-[Graig] Nettles brawl when Bill Lee separated his shoulder.
Q: You like that rivalry?
A: Absolutely. It seems to be back, too, which is nice.
Q: Who athletes in other sports you admire?
A: Tom Brady. LeBron James to me is a freak of nature. At that level to be that committed.
Q: What would you take from former Northeastern coach and BU assistant coach Ben Smith?
A: I would take Ben’s calmness and people skills.
Q: From former BU coaching legend Jack Parker?
A: I would take Jack’s passion and intensity.
Q: Your father was your biggest fan?
A: Yes. I never would have known it. … He was an Irish cop. What do you think, he’s giving me fuzzy warmies every day?
Q: Describe your first time in the Garden.
A: I came here with my girlfriend from college, lived in Madison, N.J., her father worked in the city, and we got tickets for a Ranger playoff game.
Q: What struck you about …
A: The atmosphere, Carol Alt walking around (laugh). The whole fanfare is really eye-opening, a lot different than the Boston Garden.
Q: How come you’ve never been married?
A: That’s a good question. I can’t find anyone dumb enough to marry me, I guess (laugh).
Q: That would automatically make you New York’s Most Eligible Bachelor.
A: I have a lovely girlfriend. I’m not an eligible bachelor.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Babe Ruth, JFK, Abe Lincoln.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “Midnight Run.”
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Matt Damon.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Halle Berry.
Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
A: Bruce Springsteen.
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Steak with a sweet potato.
A: I love golf, I love exercise, I like to read.
Q: Did you have a Stanley Cup dream growing up?
A: Absolutely. That becomes your passion. It’s certainly a priority.
Q: Are you big on visualization? Did you visualize …
A: I have in the last few days (laugh). When people have asked me privately what appealed … I said, “I don’t [think] there would be anything cooler than winning the Stanley Cup in New York City.” And the only way to do that is coach the New York Rangers (laugh).
Q: Are you the right man for this job?
A: Yes I am. Every stop along the way has prepared me for this. And I can’t wait to get started.
Q: What is your message to Rangers fans?
A: We’re going to play fast and physical, it’s going to be a team you’re going to want to watch. And it’s going to be a fun ride.