Pat Quinn hopes to coach in the NHL again soon

Sports teams like to run with trends and – sometimes, just sometimes – can be accused of copycatting successful outfits.

In the NHL, the hot trend in coaching is to latch onto the most successful up-and-comers in the AHL and junior ranks. Just look at some of the most successful, hype-soaked teams in the league; such success stories can be found in the form of Stanley Cup winner Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh, Presidents Trophy winner Bruce Boudreau in Washington, hot coach of the moment Guy Boucher in Tampa Bay and a few other spots around the league.

It would make me pine for the olden days of hiring retreads such as “Iron” Mike Keenan, but for the most part, the Bouchers of the world are acquitting themselves pretty well.

Then again, it’s easy to look like a brilliant man in a suit when you have Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin or Steve Stamkos scoring goals left and right. That’s a luxury anti-flavor of the month Pat Quinn did not enjoy when he was a coach for the Edmonton Oilers last season, his last opportunity to be a bench boss.

While that Oilers season was more or less a disaster, it’s difficult to pin the blame on Quinn. Either way, the 66-year-old veteran coach wants another crack at coaching in the NHL, as he told the Associated Press.

Quinn is a true hockey lifer. With more than 600 NHL games as a player and another 1,400 as a head coach, he’s literally spent decades in the dressing room.

Now removed from that setting, he misses the daily interaction with players. But he hasn’t lost hope that the phone might ring with another coaching opportunity.

“It’s been my life,” said Quinn. “As I’ve said before, there was a big void after I lost my job here in Toronto (in 2006). When you don’t think of it as a job — it’s a way of life — and suddenly it’s gone, (it’s tough). I really miss being involved, I was happy for that opportunity in Edmonton last year.

“Heck, I’m a little bit older but not too old to not want to be involved.”

As you can see from this 2007 article written by James Mirtle, 60+ years old coaches were a rarity three years ago and it’s only gotten worse for elderly bosses since then. Correct me if I’m wrong – because there’s a solid chance I might be – but it looks like the oldest coach in the league might be Jacques Martin in Ottawa. Martin is now 58, so Quinn would enter the league as its oldest coach by about eight years (unless there’s an older coach I’ve overlooked).

In other words, the odds are stacked pretty heavily against Quinn. Yet, considering the fact that he survived multiple decades in the NHL, beating the odds is probably a pretty common task for the potential Hall of Famer.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
1 Comment

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.