NHL Notebook: Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk reunite with David Quinn, no World Cup of Hockey in 2020 a bad omen

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There were more pressing issues on David Quinn’s mind just a few hours ahead of puck drop Saturday night.

In his first year at the helm of a rebuilding Rangers team, Quinn is looking to continue to generate some positives for the Blueshirts — who currently sit in the lower tier of the Metropolitan Division with a record of 21-20-7.

A victory ahead of the bye week was a priority for the Rangers, but Quinn — a native of Cranston, Rhode Island —  had to be candid when asked about his return to TD Garden.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that when the schedule came out, this wasn’t, probably, the first game I looked at from a road-game standpoint,’” Quinn said. “Boston is a hockey town and has been for a long time. It’s one of the reasons I got into hockey was because of Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins. This has been the team I’ve followed my whole life. Always special to come in here and coach — whether it was at BU, Northeastern or any other team that I coached.”

Boston University’s bench boss for the previous five seasons before taking his latest post in the Big Apple, Quinn has had plenty of reunions packed into his schedule since moving on to the NHL ranks — with Saturday standing as Quinn’s first matchup against his former players in Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

Quinn was ready for the salvo of questions regarding his trio of BU products on the Bruins. It’s far from his first rodeo when it comes to dealing with former players in the NHL — a testament to the pipeline of talent that he generated during his five years on Commonwealth Ave.

“I’ve kind of been preparing for that a little bit,” Quinn said of facing McAvoy, Grzelcyk and Forsbacka Karlsson. “So I’m not going to think much as the game is going on. But as I’ve touched on it before — coaching college hockey is unique, the relationships you build are real and they’re lifelong. Those guys are friends of mine. I follow them closely, even while I’m on the other side of things. It’s going to be a little bit different, but once the game gets going, you put all of that past you.”

A former first-round pick (13th overall) by the Minnesota North Stars, Quinn saw his promising career as a top-flight defensemen unravel after getting diagnosed with Christmas Disease — a blood-clotting disorder.

The diagnosis ended his career before he was able to make it up to the NHL, but Quinn quickly switched gears — becoming a rising star in the coaching ranks thanks to his recruiting ability and skill in rounding out highly-touted prospects.

After replacing Jack Parker as BU’s head coach in 2013, Quinn started to develop a recruiting juggernaut — bringing in primetime prospects like McAvoy, Clayton Keller, and Brady Tkachuk while coaching the Jack Eichel-led Terriers to the NCAA championship game in 2015.

While his top players usually only lasted a season or two at BU before making the jump into pro hockey, many were quick to sing his praises ahead of Saturday’s matchup.

"Quinny, I had him for two years, two of the best years of growth and development that I had as a person and a player,” McAvoy said. “He really molded me pretty well, allowed me to grow up while I was at school there, taught me a lot life lessons on the ice.

"He really grew me in the defensive side of the game, taught me how to be a defenseman when all I wanted to do is just run around and be the guy behind the goal line in the offensive zone. I'm very thankful that I was able to play for him. I'm thankful for all the things that he taught me. I'm thankful that we have such a good relationship like we do.”

He wasn’t recruited by Quinn or his staff, but Matt Grzelcyk also highlighted the the impact that Quinn had upon taking over the program — while also helping a fellow defenseman like himself hone his craft out on the ice.

“I think the biggest thing he taught me was just the importance of skating. That was huge,” Grzelcyk said. “It’s something where, yeah, I’ve been taught that would important my entire life, but he used to hold skill sessions on Mondays that were really good for the defenseman in terms of skating. It wasn’t always fun — but I think it helped me a lot and it showed me how hard I had to work to get to that next level. It’s easy to listen to someone with the experience like him.”

Quinn’s role as a collegiate coach might differ from what’s expected of him now in the NHL, but the impact he had during those years of development is still fresh in the minds of many of those players that learned the game from him.

“Just how reliable he was,” Grzelcyk said of Quinn’s best attribute as a coach. “As a player, he was always open to go to him and talk to him. He was able to put his foot down when he had to. It’s obviously different being a college coach compared to a pro coach. You’re trying to shape guys off the ice as well and he did a great job of that. Very thankful to have spent a couple years with him and obviously I learned a lot over those three years there.”

World Cup of Hockey called off in 2020

The storm clouds that come with the NHL’s third potential work stoppage in the past 20 years don’t seem to be clearing up any time soon.

Both the NHL and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) have remained in talks to sort out a few contentious issues — including escrow payments for players and participation in international tournaments, namely the Olympics.

But the clock is ticking for both parties. While the current CBA is set to expire in 2022, both the players and the owners have separate deadlines this September to opt out of the deal in place — with the agreement then expected to end on Sept. 15, 2020.

This week brought another bad omen in the ongoing negotiations — as both the league and the NHLPA decided to ax any potential plans for a World Cup of Hockey tournament in September 2020.

Both parties released joint statements on the decision Wednesday, noting that given the more pressing issues regarding CBA talks — as well as the dwindling window of time to organize the tournament — planning the event was not a realistic scenario.

“The players are focused on finding the proper time to schedule the World Cup of Hockey within the context of an overall international hockey calendar,” the NHLPA statement read. “While we and the league have discussed the possibility of holding the next World Cup in 2020, we jointly concluded that it is unrealistic to expect that preparations for the event would be completed in time. “We look forward to continuing our discussions with the league.”

Unlike other international competitions such as the Olympics 0r the International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) World Championships, the World Cup of Hockey is an event that is actually organized by both the NHL and the NHLPA — with revenue from the 2016 tournament split between both owners and players.

In total, the World Cup of Hockey has been held three times (1996, 2004 & 2016), with the event usually held in September before training camps get underway. Considering the fact that hosting the event was both encouraged and financially beneficial to both the league and the NHLPA, it’s a bit of a disheartening development ahead of more potential labor unrest later this year.

“The NHL and the NHLPA had another constructive meeting today in Toronto. While the parties have now joined the concluded that it is no longer realistic to try to schedule a World Cup of Hockey for the fall of 2020, they plan to continue their dialogue with the hope of being able to schedule the next World Cup event as part of a broader agreement, which would include a long-term international event calendar,” the league’s official statement read.

Adam McQuaid reflects on tenure in Boston

Quinn’s return to TD Garden was far from the headliner on Saturday night, as the Bruins’ matchup with the Rangers also marked Adam McQuaid’s first game back in Boston since getting dealt to New York in September.

As expected, McQuaid earned a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd during the contest after a video tribute featured some of his top highlights in his 462 career games with the B’s — including his role in Boston’s 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

“Until you’re in that situation, you don’t really know how it’s going to be,” McQuaid said of his video tribute. “You know, it was really nice to get that ovation from the crowd. You know, I felt their passion for many years, and it kind of drove us to a lot of success here, so it didn’t surprise me. Like I said, it’s a classy organization, and the people of Boston are my kind of people, so it’s nice.”

McQuaid made his presence felt during New York’s win on Saturday, landing a few punches on Chris Wagner in the closing minutes of the third while also getting into a bit of a tussle with Brad Marchand — with his former teammate swiping his helmet off after getting pinned down by the end boards.

“It was a little different, but like I said, I tried to just compete and play hard, and I think I knew they were going to play that way, and I think they knew I would play that way,” McQuaid said of battling the Bruins. “It’s kind of lifelong friendships, for sure, that you kind of just set aside and battle, and I’ll probably go say hi to some guys now.”