David Quinn was supposed to be Mike Sullivan’s coaching assistant for the United States men’s hockey team at the upcoming Winter Olympics.
After the NHL decided not to send players to Beijing, Quinn is now the coach of the United States and John Vanbiesbrouck is the last USA Hockey first quarter GM to plan B for other Olympics without the best players. hockey world.
“To be appointed head coach under these circumstances is bittersweet in some ways,” Quinn said on a video call Monday. “We were all hoping the NHL guys would go, but to be named the head coach of the 2022 Olympic team is an incredible honor. “
Quinn, 55, was the only member of the initial coaching staff not currently working in the NHL. He has coached the New York Rangers for the past three seasons after five years at Boston University.
Internationally, Quinn recently coached for the United States as an assistant at the 2016 world championships and also served on that tournament’s staff in 2007 and 2012.
“All of these opportunities for me have prepared me for this,” Quinn said.
Instead of an American roster comprising Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane and Seth Jones, Vanbiesbrouck will be tasked with tapping into the ranks of European colleges and professional leagues, as in 2018.
“He certainly has the best control over the overall American player pool,” USA Hockey general manager Pat Kelleher said of Vanbiesbrouck. “He’s been involved with the NHL and our NHL people involved for the 2022 Olympic team, so no one better to serve as our team’s GM than John Vanbiesbrouck, who can take what we’ve done so far. to go forward.
Vanbiesbrouck is the third person to take charge of preparations for the Olympic roster after Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin replaced Stan Bowman, who resigned after an investigation revealed he had played a Leading role in mismanaging the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual assault allegations in 2010. Guerin stepped down when the NHL pulled out.
“This turn of events, we have to get to work and we have to get to work quickly in selecting our team,” said Vanbiesbrouck.
Vanbiesbrouck has served as USA Hockey’s Assistant General Manager of Hockey Operations for the past three and a half years. A member of the American Hockey Hall of Fame who played 953 NHL games as a goaltender from 1981 to 2002, Vanbiesbrouck resigned as general manager and coach of a junior hockey team in 2003 after using a racial slur to describe defender Trevor Daley, who is black.
When hiring Vanbiesbrouck in 2018, Kelleher said the organization looked into this incident and said: “He sees it as a terrible situation, a terrible mistake – something that has helped him change it for the better.” Vanbiesbrouck then apologized, adding: “It’s not who I am. It does not define me as a person and I have no prejudices in me, and it will never happen again. “
Former Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien is expected to be behind the bench for Canada, replacing back-to-back Stanley Cup winner Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan is seen as the top contender for GM after Hockey Canada used an international tune-up tournament in Moscow to put together an Olympic save plan without presence of NHL.
Quinn and Vanbiesbrouck have spoken to each other every day since the NHL pulled out of the Olympics. “John and a few changed gears in a hurry once it got official and started to focus on the current pool of players that we’re going to be able to tap into,” said Quinn.
This group could include players from the American Hockey League and ECHL, but only those who are not under contract with an NHL organization. Vanbiesbrouck said “From the goal we’re going to be strong” and mentioned that there are candidates who played college hockey last year and now are professionals.
So instead of 2020 Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck, the United States could have University of Michigan product Strauss Mann as top goalie in Beijing. Mann has a 1.75 goals against average and .932 save percentage in 12 games this season in the Swedish Hockey League.
Beyond goaltenders, Quinn said he has known many of the new roster players well since their transition to the NCAA. As for trying to convince current college players to go to the Olympics, he’s up for that challenge as well, although it won’t be easy.
“These circumstances are very different from when you recruit a varsity athlete: leaving the team in the middle of the season and with the COVID situation,” Quinn said. “There are a lot of obstacles, a lot of obstacles, but I think everyone wants to participate in the Olympics. We just need to make sure we’re going through the right channels and going through the right process to make sure we have the right people and that we make the right team. “
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