Kevin Shattenkirk is the New York Rangers‘ highest-paid skater, but that won’t factor into whether or not rookie head coach David Quinn puts him in the lineup Thursday when the Rangers host the San Jose Sharks.
Quinn told reporters Wednesday that he and his coaching staff were weighing their options but that it was a possibility Shattenkirk would be made a healthy scratch.
The Rangers are 0-3-0 so far this season. They lost 3-2 to the Preds in their home opener before dropping back-to-back road contests 3-1 to the Sabres and 8-5 to the Hurricanes. Shattenkirk has gone a combined minus-4 with zero points and was benched against the Hurricanes, logging only 7:29 of ice time that night.
“I’m not doing it to be the big, tough coach,” Quinn explained. “It’s more like, ‘Listen, if we’re going to have the success we’re capable of having, this is the bar and this is what’s expected.’ Holding people accountable is a coach’s No. 1 responsibility. This is how I’ve done it my whole life. It’s not like I’m coming in here changing the way I’ve coached. This is just how I’ve done it.”
Quinn has a history with Shattenkirk having coached him at Boston University and with the Lake Erie Monsters.
Shattenkirk, a native of New Rochelle, N.Y., signed a four-year, $26.6-million contract with his hometown Rangers in 2017. His first season with The Broadway Blueshirts was disappointing as it ended in January when Shattenkirk required surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Perhaps building his knee back up to full strength is a contributing factor but the defenceman isn’t making any excuses for his performance and doesn’t take Quinn’s decision personally.
“Really, it’s more wanting to see me compete more, just be a little harder to play against,” Shattenkirk said. “I know it’s a very vague term, but when it comes down to it I could probably just be harder on my one-on-ones, lean into guys a little bit more, be a bit meaner. I know I’m not an overly physical guy, but I can definitely play with a mean streak. I need to get that back in my game because it does drive me.”
Shattenkirk isn’t the only notable player Quinn has benched early this year. Vladislav Namestnikov was scratched against the Sabres, while Kevin Hayes has been benched on multiple shifts and could even join Shattenkirk in the press box Thursday.
“At the end of the day, accountability and performance are what this is all about,” Quinn added. “That’s coaching, in my opinion, holding people accountable but also understanding people have built up a bank account too. You don’t just bench guys for every mistake, but to me the piece to it that is non-negotiable is effort. If the mistakes are made because of the lack of all-out effort then I don’t care what your bank account is, you’ll be held accountable.”