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Rangers go college route, hire David Quinn as new head coach

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David Quinn will be leaving his post with the Boston University men’s hockey team to replace Alain Vigneault as the new head coach of the New York Rangers.

“We are excited to announce that David will become the next Head Coach of the New York Rangers,” said Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton in a statement. “In a coaching career that has spanned over two decades at the collegiate, pro, and international level, David has helped his teams achieve success while simultaneously teaching the game and helping his players develop on and off the ice. He is the ideal choice to bring our loyal and passionate fans the winning hockey they deserve.”

Gorton had pursued Jim Montgomery after firing Vigneault on April 7, but the former Denver University head coach decided to take the open job with the Dallas Stars. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Gorton was looking for someone who could communicate well with young players and possessed strong team-building skills. None of the bigger names on the free agent coaching market like Dave Tippett, Dan Bylsma and Darryl Sutter, were on his radar. 

In five years behind the bench with the Terriers, Quinn, who replaced Jack Parker in 2013, had a 105-68-21 record, which included four trips to the NCAA tournament and a national title game appearance in 2015. He becomes the sixth head coach — following Ned Harkness, Herb Brooks, Bob Johnson, Dave Hakstol and Montgomery — to jump from the college ranks to the NHL.

(The hiring of Quinn also means that USA Hockey will have to look for a new head coach for its World Junior team after announcing in April he would take that job.)

Quinn’s deal is reportedly for five years and worth in the neighborhood of $12 million. Per College Hockey News’ Mike McMahon, the Rangers original offer of four years, $8 million was rejected before they added a year and bumped up the salary per season.

At BU, Quinn helped develop current NHLers like Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy, Clayton Keller and one of the top prospects in next month’s entry draft, Brady Tkachuk.

Quinn is no stranger to the NHL. Before arriving at BU, he spent the 2012-13 season as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche, three years after taking over the head coaching duties with their AHL affiliate in Lake Erie.

The Rangers missed the playoffs this season for the first time since 2010. Gorton threw in the towel in February, signaling to the fan base he was ready to re-tool on the fly and look toward next season. The roster is littered with a number of restricted and unrestricted free agents to deal with this summer, per CapFriendly, and with nearly $25 million in cap space to play with this summer, it’s not hard to imagine them being back in the postseason next spring.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bruins address Marchand licking, future plans

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The Boston Bruins’ brass addressed the media on a wide range of issues Wednesday. If you want to keep your humor Brad Marchand-topical, you might call it an appetizer for the offseason.

After at least one lick/personal bubble-bursting moment in each round of their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs run (Leo Komarov and Ryan Callahan ranking among his … run-ins), Marchand eventually got a talking-to. Management addressed as much today, and they generally kept it from getting too salty.

“Brad should be contrite,” Cam Neely said (see around the minute mark). “ … He’s gotten to the point now where his game on the ice – without the antics – should speak for itself.”

You know it’s a serious headache – not just a punchline and strange routine – when Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs needs to weigh in. His comments give the impression that Marchand doesn’t have much of a margin of error.

More teaching, less licking

As refreshing as it is to discuss “Zen and the Art of Licking,” some might view it as empty calorie content.

Luckily, the Bruins also shed some light on how they view the 2017-18 season (mostly positive, especially when it comes to integrating young talent, while the ending was bittersweet) and how they might approach free agency and the summer. If you’re the type who shuddered at the idea of targeting a Rick Nash upgrade in free agency – and the comments indicate that quite a few people did – then you’d probably be glad to hear some of the reactions.

Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs spoke highly of players who could make a future impact on the B’s (“from Providence and Europe”), so Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy might be tasked with much of the “teaching” Cam Neely spoke of today.

Backup plan

Curiously, as NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty points out, the Bruins might make the backup goalie position an area they’re aiming for improvement with.

There are a few factors to consider in that regard.

For one thing, Anton Khudobin‘s $1.2 million contract expires. The 32-year-old played well enough at times – finishing with a nice-for-backup .913 save percentage – to drum up some minor goalie controversies (depending upon who you asked during 2017-18) when Tuukka Rask struggled. The Bruins are committed to Rask at $7M through 2020-21, yet they might want to at least attempt to get a No. 2 who could moonlight as a No. 1.

Beyond perusing trade opportunities, free agency, or even bringing back Khudobin, you wonder how long of a look the Bruins might give Zane McIntyre as Rask’s backup in 2018-19. After all, McIntyre’s already 25, and could be feeling a little restless (after a dominant AHL season in 2016-17, his numbers were solid but a bit more modest last season).

Other considerations, and a warning

There were discussions of other possible tweaks, such as possibly adding more size at the left D position behind Zdeno Chara. Even then, you wonder how deeply they’ll probe in that area; after all, Torey Krug had a strong season and Matt Grzelcyk came along nicely.

Broadly speaking, it sounds like the Bruins will lean more toward “improving from within” instead of pursuing more established players. Considering the way GM Don Sweeney’s been drafting and the team’s been developing lately, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Then again, perhaps some bolder opportunities might surface? As promising as some of the future pieces in Boston seem to be, the B’s must also realize that the window could start to close on their core. Zdeno Chara’s in the clearest battle with Father Time at 41, but sometimes the aging curve can dilute the dominance of guys like Patrice Bergeron (32) and Brad Marchand (30) with troubling speed. Considering how frightening Bergeron and Marchand were on most nights alongside young stud David Pastrnak, a slip – even from “elite” to merely “quite good” – could alter Boston’s trajectory, or force them to lean on younger talent even more.

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So, there are some factors to juggle, but can you really blame management for feeling so optimistic compared to the mixed feelings that were likely on display during last year’s pressers regarding the team’s outlook?

Jacobs himself spoke of the Bruins being spry in keeping up with league trends, and justifiably so. If the NHL’s smartest teams continue this rapid evolution, then Boston must remain just as nimble this summer. At least if they want to maintain their status as a revitalized heavy-hitter in the NHL.

MORE:
• 
Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• 
NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Strangest moments in playoff history; Jagr isn’t done yet

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Washington National slugger Bryce Harper gets more nervous watching Golden Knights games than he does playing baseball. (USA Today)

Brad Marchand‘s decision to lick an opponent was one of the weirdest moments in playoff history, so Adam Gretz looked at other strange moments that occurred in the postseason. (Yard Barker)

• Amanda Kraus Wilson is a Capitals fan that moved from Virginia to Rochester after she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. On a positive note, Wilson was cleared to fly back to Washington to catch Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. She even got a special jersey signed by some of the players. (Washington Post)

• The NWHL has decided to expand to the great state of Minnesota. “Minnesota is an essential part of women’s hockey in North America. When you consider all of the talented players in this area and the passion this community has for the game, the Whitecaps are going to be incredible on and off the ice,” commissioner Dani Rylan said. (NWHL.Zone)

• Former Montreal Canadiens forward David Desharnais has reportedly agreed to play in the KHL next season. (Montreal Gazette)

• 46-year-old forward Jaromir Jagr isn’t ready to hang up his skates just yet. He’s signed a new one-year deal with HC Kladno. Yes, he’s the owner of the team. (BarDown)

Nate Schmidt went from being a healthy scratch in the playoffs last season to being one of Vegas’ most important blue liners this year. (NHL.com)

• Check out this Q&A with NBC Sports broadcaster Kenny Albert, who talks about why Ovechkin is finally getting his big moment in the playoffs. (New York Post)

• Through two games, the Winnipeg Jets have been able to get shots on Marc-Andre Fleury from in close, but that wasn’t enough to give them a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• The Jets won some big games on the road in the second round and they’ll probably have to do that again if in Vegas if they want to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. (Winnipeg Sun)

• TSN’s Scott Cullen looks at what the Chicago Blackhawks have to do during the offseason to be successful in 2018-19. (TSN.ca)

• Up top, check out the highlights from last night’s game between the Capitals and Lightning.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Lightning power play takes advantage of first-period breaks

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Even though the Washington Capitals scored less than one minute into Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning they still found themselves trailing heading heading into the first intermission.

Their early lead — the result of a Tom Wilson deflection — was wiped out by a pair of Lightning power play goals later in the period.

The first came from Brayden Point as he continued his tremendous postseason run for the Lightning, scoring his fifth goal of the playoffs, after Wilson was sent off for goaltender interference.

The second Lightning goal, a one-timer from Steven Stamkos from just inside the left faceoff circle for his fifth of the playoffs, was the result of a high-sticking call on T.J. Oshie against Lightning defender Victor Hedman.

Both penalties that led to the Lightning goals came with a little bit of controversy.

In the case of the Wilson interference call, as he drove to the front of the net he was clearly hooked by Lightning forward Chris Kunitz, an infraction that went uncalled.

As for the Oshie call, the Capitals were livid with it because every replay angle showed that Hedman was actually hit in the face by the puck, and not Oshie’s stick.

Here is where things get a little tricky: Oshie’s stick still made contact with Hedman’s outstretched hand as he attempted to knock the puck down out of the air. According to the NHL’s high-sticking rule, “any contact made by a stick on an opponent above the shoulders is prohibited and a minor penalty shall be imposed.” So does that make it a legit call, and not the phantom call it was originally believed to be? Maybe? High-sticking is always thought of as a player getting hit in the face, but the rule doesn’t specify that it has to be that, and Oshie’s stick and the eventual contact was definitely above Hedman’s shoulder.

If nothing else, that is really making the call to the letter of the law and you don’t always see it get enforced that strictly.

You can see both penalties, as well as the Stamkos goal, in the video above. The Lightning power play has now scored at least one goal in seven consecutive playoff games.

This is also not the first time this postseason Hedman has had one of these calls go his way. In the second round Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak was given a four-minute double-minor penalty for high-sticking when it was actually Hedman’s own stick that hit himself in the face.

The Capitals were able to respond and tie the game early in the second period on a Devante Smith-Pelly goal.

MORE:
• Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• PHT 2018 Conference Finals Roundtable
• PHT predicts NHL’s Conference Finals
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

US routs Norway 9-3 at hockey worlds, Czechs blank France

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HERNING, Denmark (AP) — Captain Patrick Kane scored two goals for the second straight game and added an assist to lead the United States to a 9-3 victory over Norway for its sixth straight win at the ice hockey world championship on Sunday.

The Czech Republic beat France 6-0 for its second consecutive shutout.

Kane scored with a slap shot from the right circle on a power play to open the scoring and added another power play goal almost from the same spot for a 2-0 lead.

The forward leads the tournament with 15 points for five goals and 10 assists.

“A good performance by the team tonight,” Kane said. “We had a lot of different guys to contribute and chip in, which is good to see, and give us a lot of confidence going into the next game against Finland.”

Dylan Larkin and Cam Atkinson had a goal and a couple assists, Charlie McAvoy got a goal and an assist in another high-scoring victory for the U.S.

“Our goal is to keep winning, to keep getting better,” Atkinson said.

Alec Martinez, Anders Lee, Colin White and Neal Pionk had a goal apiece.

Norway got its goals from Kristian Forsberg, Ken Andre Olimb and Mathis Olimb.

David Pastrnak and Roman Horak had two goals each and Dmitrij Jaskin and Martin Necas contributed one each for the Czechs.

Goaltender David Rittich stopped 10 shots for the shutout.

The United States tops Group B in Herning with 16 points, four more than Finland that plays Germany later Sunday.

Denmark has 11 points in third followed by Canada on 10, which has played one game less. Norway remains on three points.

The Czechs are third in Group A in Copenhagen with 12 points. Sweden leads with 14 points, a point ahead of Russia in second. Switzerland is fourth with nine and plays Sweden later.