Every coach has their own Doghouse. One guy that struggled but never seemed to end up in it (until now) was Sam Gagner. Ales Hemsky has always garnered respect, but some of what Quinn has said since getting here leads me to believe that none of the players are going to be exempt from being bumped down a line if they don’t play a strong team game. You can have a strong individual game, but it will have no meaning under Quinn (not to say that MacTavish was different in that regard).
Here is the running list of quotes that point towards the skill players being in Quinn’s not-so-awesome books:
June 16, 2009, presumably on Ales Hemsky
You’ve got a great talented center here that never distributes the puck. Is he a great talent? Yeah. But he’s like playing with the Lone Ranger. If you consider yourself only an offensive player, then you are not becoming part of the team. Quite frankly you can score 40 goals, but you’re not going to help us win.
September 11, 2009 (first day of training camp), presumably on Ales Hemsky, possibly Sam Gagner and others
We are a bunch of players who seem to have some skill, but I know skill alone doesn’t win in this business. It never has and never will. You have to learn how to use that skill well. You have to be interdependent and really rely on each other to be better than just the individual skills. Then, you’ve got a chance to win.
September 29, 2009, presumably on Ales Hemsky.. perhaps others as well
We have some guys that aren’t leaders that are veterans. They’ve hung around because they know how to play, but we need our veterans to care more about the other people around them. Some guys don’t have time for that. They’re busy with themselves.
September 30, 2009, on Sam Gagner
I’m just going off training camp. You certainly look at history and understand what’s gone on here. He did, from my understanding, historically have a real hot spot a couple of years ago. It’s three years now, the start of the third year. It’s time to start moving that up. I haven’t seen that part in camp, yet. Most people believe that it’s there and it’s going to come. For the purposes of preparing for opening night, that’s probably where he is going to start.
October 1st, 2009, presumably about Gagner, possibly more
“We’ve got some guys who are 19 or 20 years old who have played by themselves for a long time, they get 30 or 40 points and they’re thinking that’s pretty good. It’s not good. It’s not good enough.”
So… reading into this too much? Or does Hemsky have to reinvent himself? Or are the generic statements directed at another player, or perhaps a few in general? What about Gagner who has found himself on the 4th line? The only thing is certain is that players aren’t going to get by here on potential. Its all about the “boxcars”.
Personally, I think Hemsky’s individual game is what makes me like him as much as I do. But that is only at even strength. On the powerplay, I can see some of what Quinn was saying in the first quote (even though we all know Hemsky is a right winger, not a center, unless he was talking about someone else). Hemsky has always done his marquee circle around on the boards, hanging on to the puck until Souray got open. He’s got to open it up a bit and start utilizing all 4 players joining him on the ice. I think we saw a bit of that in the pre-season though. He seemed to be using both Horcoff and JF Jacques very well.
I wonder though if Quinn has ever seen pre-SCF Hemsky though. The knock on him used to be that he never shot the puck. Now it’s a bit different. He has a good balance of passing and shooting now and knows when to do each. However, again, on the powerplay he’s going to have to carry the puck less and move the puck more to get the other team guessing and having to move around themselves… or else he too might find himself on a lower line one day too.
So how do you guys interpret Quinn’s comments? Who are they directed at, if anyone specific?