Credit: AP Photo/Adrian Kraus
Jack Quinn's final season of junior hockey was played during the 2019-20 season with the Ottawa 67's but the Cobden, ON, native still looks back fondly on his three years spent in the Ontario Hockey League, which helped him become the eighth overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres.
Journey through the OHL
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"I was so lucky to be able to be a part of the Ottawa 67's organization," said Quinn. "It was so well run and feel that I became the player that I am today in large part due to my time spent there. Two and a half to three years there under (then head coach) Andre Tourigny, they continue to do a great job there with the culture from top to bottom no matter who moves on to the pro's."
After two back-to-back 50-win season's as the 67's bench boss, the aforementioned Tourigny moved on to become the head coach of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes following the 2019-20 pandemic shortened season, which was also Quinn's final season in Ottawa due to the cancellation of the entire 2020-21 OHL season.
Ottawa has not missed the playoffs since the 2013-14 season and have continued to be a benchmark franchise in the Ontario Hockey League under Dave Cameron, who took over for Andre Tourigny as the team's head coach following Quinn's time with the 67's. Quinn eclipsed an impressive 52 goals and 89 points in only 62 games during his final season with Ottawa.
Quinn also believes that the Ontario Hockey League helped prepare him for what was to come at the next level as he transitioned from junior hockey to the pro's, where he began splitting time with the Sabres AHL affiliate in Rochester for the Americans before becoming a full-time NHL player last season.
"First off, the OHL is so competitive with so many good players and so many good teams. That type of high level competition creates great players at the next level and secondly the atmosphere in regards to the schedule is very "pro-like" in the sense that you play a lot of games in a short period of time," said Quinn. "It's a business, you want to win games and it's very serious, so the Ontario Hockey League prepares you for the pro's in that sense," Quinn made it a point to emphasize.
The talented right winger also talked about the friendships and bonds you make during your time in junior hockey. "Absolutely, you still stay in touch with those guys because you make so many good friends there during those years of your life so I'm able to stay in touch with a lot of them, which is great," Quinn said with a big smile on his face.
"The long bus rides were tough but I feel that those are the fun memories that you look back on now fondly, even when you were exhausted that third game it was still a blast. Definitely miss certain parts of those days in junior hockey," Quinn said happily as he reminisced and reflected back on that period of time in his life, being a young hockey player with dreams and aspirations of becoming a pro one day.
Getting back up to speed for second half
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On June 28th 2023, Quinn had successful surgery to repair an Achilles tendon injury suffered earlier that week during training. The talented forward was set expected to make a full recovery but the timeline was 4-6 months.
Quinn eventually returned to the Sabres lineup back on December 18th against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since that time, Quinn has played in 11 games so far and is happy to be back with his teammates and getting up to game shape despite missing the first half of the NHL season.
"It's been awesome to be back, a ton of fun to get back into things with the guys. I'm pretty happy with where my game is at through the first 11 games. You're not really sure what to expect when you miss that much time so I'm definitely happy with the start," said Quinn who has four goals and two assists through those 11 games.
The Sabres first rounder in 2020 says that the coaching staff hasn't asked for too much from him other than to just play his game and continue to work back into the type of player they know he's capable of being for the hockey team. "Nothing too specific I don't think, the coaches just continue to get better everyday, work on my game, and compete every night for this group as I continue to get back up to speed," Quinn said humbly.
Granato excited to have Quinn back in the fold
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Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato believes that Quinn's time away from the ice has been beneficial for him in his development still as a 22-year-old hockey player. "Even last year we talked about how important it was for him to take a step back, watch a game from up top and even in those situations we knew he'd come back better," said Granato.
"You can look back at when he suffered the injury that he would come back an even better hockey player when he recovers. Jack is a young guy, he gets to take a step back, he's in our meeting, and he sees the game from a different perspective. He's intelligent enough to figure out how to use that time to his advantage," Granato went on to mention at length.
The Sabres head coach also spoke about how impactful Quinn was to the overall depth of their lineup and how having him back has already made a difference for them. "I talked about leading up to his return that we've missed him every single day on the ice and that we need him to be an impact upon arrival so it has not surprised us one bit for how good he has been through the first 8 games," Granato said assertively.
"You can factor in his age, his commitment to his continued development, his intelligence, and his appetite for more; we're seeing all of these things that work upon his return. You can also move him up and down your lineup with some pretty good hockey players too," said the Sabres bench boss.
Granato finished off with an analysis of what makes Quinn so good as far as his approach of attacking the net when he or his teammates have the puck in the offensive zone. "Not only does he go to the net, he has a net mentality. When he gets a puck, the net is there, which is where some other guys don't look at that to attack as they distract themselves with other things instead of attacking the net," Granato said passionately.
"Jack hones in on that net front attack very well instead of worrying about other things like side-to-side or lateral," Buffalo's head coach said in closing.
Quinn has been slotted on Buffalo's second line right wing spot as well as a staple on their second powerplay unit, which has brought even more depth and versatility to the lineup card. All of those factors which Granato spoke about have helped the Sabres coaching staff tremendously in their game planning and their overall lineup structure.
Buffalo's number 22 is an important asset as ever to the organization as they move forward with the rest of this NHL season and beyond with their promising young core hungry for success, which includes former Ottawa 67's forward and OHL graduate: Jack Quinn.