So much for an offseason. By accepting the reigns of the Boston University hockey program, succeeding the inimitable Jack Parker who stepped down after 897 career wins, David Quinn knew his summer was going to be spent either on Commonwealth Avenue, or on the recruiting trail. But the 47-year-old Quinn said he relishes the challenge.
"The good news is you're so busy that you don’t have a chance to sit back and think, 'Wow, I'm replacing Jack Parker, the 40 years he's been here, the success he's had and the standard he's set.' I think if you do think about that, you'll drive yourself nuts," said Quinn with a laugh during a late August interview. "So, I'm going to try to approach it in a manner that I'm very fortunate that I'm inheriting a program that has had a lot of success and is certainly set up to have a lot more success moving forward."
BU opens its regular season Friday against UMass at Agganis Arena.
Quinn sees his role as overseeing a smooth transition for BU hockey, not an abrupt change. "I haven't had a lot of surprises," he said. "Like I said, I was fortunate enough to coach college hockey for a long time. You just don't realize the magnitude of the decisions you're making, and how you're responsible for everything that's going on within the program."
"It's something you're always aware of. You're always trying to make the right decisions. And it's amazing how many people are impacted by your decisions," said Quinn, a 1989 BU graduate. "So you're constantly aware the impact of every decision you make, whether it's an academic issue, a social issue, there's a lot that goes into it. So, at the end of the day, as an assistant coach, you're always making suggestions. As the head coach, you're making decisions."
There's also a transition for Quinn, who is moving from the pro ranks (he was head coach of the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League, and most recently assistant coach for the Colorado Avalanche) back to the college arena.
"In the pro game, it's very much a business," said the former first round draft choice of the Minnesota North Stars. "You're not as patient in the pro game as you are in the college game. You're more apt to give up on a player at the pro level. But in college, when you have a player, it's your responsibility to make them better, year in and year out. And they're going to be there for four years. You're going to help them grow up. So there's just a whole lot more responsibility when you're coaching at the college level."
Quinn said he likes the team he's inherited at BU, and believes it has the talent to get back to the NCAA tournament. The Terriers narrowly missed out on the NCAAs last year, losing to UMass Lowell in the Hockey East final, 1-0, and missing out on the league's automatic bid.
"I think our greatest strength is in net, which, as a coach, is usually priority No. 1," he said. "We have two guys (Matt O'Connor and Sean Maguire) who have proven they're capable of carrying the load for an extended period of time. They're both in great shape, and having competition is great. So it's reassuring, from a coaching standpoint, that we've got a great situation in net."
The Terriers defense looks stout with Anti Oksanen, Garrett Noonan, and Bruins draft pick Matt Grzelcyk, said Quinn, but a question mark remains at forward. "We've got a lot of new faces up front," he said. "We lost some guys up front who had productive for us offensively, so we're looking to replace them and the freshmen (including NHL draft choices Brendan Collier and Robbie Baillargeon) are going to have plenty opportunity to do that."
"But the key to any team, and I've said this forever, is your success is tied to your returning players," said Quinn. "How good are last year's freshmen going to be as sophomores. Are they going to make that jump? How are the sophomores going to be as juniors? Look at Evan Rodrigues and Casey Hohmann, who had good freshmen years but really made the jump as sophomores. Those are the things that need to happen at BU in order for us to have success."
Asked if he had any specific goals, Quinn didn't hesitate. "Whenever you're at a school like BU, championships is how you measure yourself," he said. "The Hockey East championship is a goal that every team in our league strives for. If you're the best team in Hockey East, I like your chances on the national stage. If we take care of business within our league, we'll take care of business on a national level. So, for me, our goal would be to win Hockey East."
Oh, and you can add ending Boston College's four-year stranglehold on the Beanpot Trophy to the list as well.