U.S. coach David Quinn gets second chance to go to Olympics

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David Quinn walked into Boston University coach Jack Parker’s office in the summer of 1987 and got news that destroyed his Olympic dream.

Quinn learned he was a hemophiliac and was told his hockey-playing career was over.

“It was a big blow,” said Quinn, now 55. “It was devastating in a lot of ways, life-altering. People have put up with a lot worse than I have in life, that’s for sure, but at 20 years old still a tough pill to swallow.”

More than three decades since the rare blood disorder kept him from playing at the 1988 Games in Calgary, Quinn is getting a second Olympic opportunity as the U.S. coach in Beijing. It’s also a chance of another kind for Quinn to get back into coaching after being fired last summer by the New York Rangers following three seasons dedicated to a rebuild.

“I really think Quinny can be a great coach in the NHL,” said veteran defenseman Brendan Smith, who played for him for three years in New York. “The situation he was put in was an unwinnable situation, really, and I’m excited for him to go over there. I think he will do a very good job.”

Much of Quinn’s coaching philosophy stems from his playing career and the diagnosis that took it away. He was a first-round pick of Minnesota in 1984, played on the 1986 world junior team that won the first U.S. medal in that tournament’s history and was a a top college defenseman with legitimate pro prospects.

A handful of injuries that were all blood-related pushed Quinn to get tested. Knowing how bright Quinn’s future was, BU teammate and now U.S. Olympic assistant Scott Young said of the abrupt end: “Nobody saw that coming. That was just a shock to everybody.”

“After you throw a pity party for yourself, I think you try to figure out what’s next,” Quinn said. He reflected on how Parker and previous coaches like Ben Smith, Larry Pietila and Peter Bragdon made up such a big part of his support system at a difficult time. He wanted to follow that same path to stay in hockey.

Quinn gave it a go for 79 more games in the minors in the early ’90s thanks to a barrage of new medications and tried and failed to make the Olympic team in 1992. With his playing career over for good, he became an assistant at Northeastern in 1993 before moving on to Nebraska-Omaha and returning to BU.

Three years as an American Hockey League coach and one as a Colorado Avalanche assistant led him back to BU as coach for five seasons before getting the job with the Rangers in 2018.

New York had launched into a full-scale rebuild before hiring Quinn, who was seen as one of the sport’s up-and-coming coaching minds. He coached there for three seasons until the Rangers cleaned house, dumping president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton. New head of hockey operations Chris Drury fired Quinn last summer.

“New York sent out a letter that they’re going to bring along the young guys, and at all costs,” said Smith, who’s now with Carolina. “That becomes very difficult, especially in the team dynamic because then young guys can get away with making mistakes and older guys can’t and older guys get punished and then you make a divide of the room and a divide from the coaches.”

Even through that, Smith and others lauded Quinn for handling the situation as best he could through clear, consistent communication. The ability to deliver messages is considered one of his biggest strengths going into an Olympics with a roster of 15 college players and 10 professionals.

“He has a pretty good understanding of where the older guys are coming from, but also as a younger guy playing in New York I felt comfortable talking with him in a 1-on-1 conversation,” said defenseman Neal Pionk, who played for Quinn in 2018-19 is now with Winnipeg. “We had a lot of young guys in New York, so he made sure it was a point that the young guys were able to go up to him and have a conversation without being hesitant.”

There is not much hesitancy about Quinn, who went right to work for USA Hockey, initially as an assistant on Mike Sullivan’s Olympic staff before the NHL withdrew and thrust him into this role. Quinn visited a few training camps to observe and talk to other coaches, watched plenty of game film for scouting purposes — and could not sit still.

“He’s a constant sponge at trying to find out how to make himself better, and he’ll keep doing that,” said Davidson, now the president of hockey operations for Columbus. “He doesn’t sit around and let the moss grow underneath his feet. He’s a goer in a very good way.”

Gorton, who is now running Montreal’s front office, said coaching the U.S. team is a perfect situation.

“He’s a very good hockey coach. He’ll get another job eventually,” he said. “I think this is a great opportunity for him to go on a big stage and show what he can do.”

That could be as soon as next season, depending on how the U.S. plays and the coaching carousel around the NHL. But Quinn is too busy getting ready to live out his longstanding Olympic dream to worry about that.

“Whatever comes from winning a gold medal, I’ll take,” he said. “Whatever comes from that, I’ll live with it and I’ll embrace it.”

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    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.

    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”