Why Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko don’t fit in the Rangers top 6

NY Rangers (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NY Rangers (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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Head coach of the New York Rangers David Quinn. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

A ghost of coaches past

On November 30, 2021, the much beleaguered former coach of the New York Rangers, David Quinn, was interviewed on the Cam & Strick Podcast. During the interview, the former Rangers bench boss summed up the current situation facing these young stars.

"“When you go to a team that finished dead last and you don’t have a lot of high end players and then you step in, y’know, you play them on the top lines, they get all these minutes, they get all these opportunities because, y’know, their on a team that just isn’t that good. But, well, these two guys step into a situations where you’ve got Panarin, Zibenejad, Kreider, Buchnevich, Strome ,Jesper Fast, I mean, you’ve got legit top six forwards. So its hard for them, its hard for you as a coach to just put them up there and let them go because thats just not how its going to work. Listen, as much as a head coach has management to answer to, you have a locker room to answer to.”  – David Quinn"

Though his message was not positively received, Quinn tried to put his players in the best spots for them to succeed.

"“If you can be respectful to your players and hold them accountable and let them know that every decision you make has their best interest at heart, they may not like it and at that moment they may be pissed at ya’, but when they put their head on the pillow at night, they know you care”  –  David Quinn"

Quinn went on to add

"“These two guys {Lafrenière and Kakko} are going to be great players, they really are, but it was unfair to them, the expectations because you get drafted first and second overall, the situation they were going into wasn’t the same as the situation some of those other high end picks were going into. They were coming to a pretty good hockey team with some pretty good forwards.”   – David Quinn"

(For those who are interested in the full interview, it can be found here, with the interview starting at about the 55 minute mark.)

All said, based on how the New York Rangers organization approached their rebuild has dramatically affected the development, both actual and perceived, of these two players.