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The Mighty Quinn: Ottawa NHL Star Jack Quinn and a Season to Remember

Jack Quinn has come a long way from his Muskrat Minor Hockey days. As a kid from the Ottawa Valley –  Cobden, to be exact – Quinn was always a fine young player, but never seemed to be able to make that top team, getting cut at Triple A for several seasons in a row.

 

But as they say, things often happen for a reason. Without the sting of not making the top team, perhaps Quinn never discovers the motivation to improve the way he did. By age 15, he finally made that Triple A team, but didn’t just squeak on to the squad. No, by mid-season, Quinn was leading the entire league in scoring. 

 

And things just kept getting better from there.

 

Quinn got to stay local for his junior hockey career, starring for the CCHL’s Kanata Lasers (now the Renfrew Wolves) and then two years with the Ottawa 67s. In the 2019-20 OHL season, with a stunning 52 goals and 89 points in his NHL Draft year, Quinn was an easy choice as a first round selection. He was taken 8th overall by the Buffalo Sabres. And that winter, he was a silver medalist for Team Canada at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships.

 

Now 21, Quinn just completed another memorable season, filled with achievement, the kind that almost certainly makes old minor hockey coaches second guess their decisions of the past.

 

Quinn made the NHL full-time this season, playing 75 games for the Sabres and then capped his 2022-23 campaign with a gold medal performance for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships in Finland. In Buffalo, as an NHL rookie, Quinn scored 37 points as the upstart Sabres missed the playoffs by just one point. For Canada, he scored 7 points in 10 games en route to a World title last month.

 

Unfortunately, things recently took a downturn for Quinn, who recently suffered an Achilles tendon injury during an off-season workout that will sideline him for the next four to six months. Prior to the injury, Faces caught up with Quinn, to discuss a season that was surely one to remember. 

 

Faces: How would you describe your first full year with the Buffalo Sabres?

Quinn: I think it was pretty successful. I’m really happy with it. I think there’s a lot of ups and downs in trying to figure the league out. There were some struggles and some times where I was doing really well and I think that’s all part of it. But in terms of the year as a whole, I think it was a really positive one. And hopefully, I can build on that going into next year.

 

Just like the Senators, it looks like you guys have a really good young team in Buffalo that’s ready to get to the playoffs. Do you guys feel that way too?

Yeah, that’s our feeling for sure. We’ve got a really special group and we can keep getting better and be dangerous down the road. So we’re really excited in that aspect. 

 

Who did you play with mostly last season? 

The most common line was me, Dylan Cozens and John Peterka so they called it the Kid Line. It was a young line and we had a lot of success at times and struggled at times, but it was pretty cool to play with those guys. I played with Peterka in the AHL last year and Cozens is my age too, so it was cool.

 

 

Photography by Sean Sisk

 

Can you describe what your first NHL game was like?

Yeah, it was awesome. I remember definitely being nervous. I mean, you’re a little bit nervous about how you’re gonna play and it ended up going really well. I thought I’d played great, but we ended up losing, I think, 5-1 to Tampa. They were pretty good. So that was too bad. But it was a great experience. 

 

You won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships in Finland last month. That must have been an amazing experience. 

Yeah, it was. It was awesome. An unbelievable experience. I’m super grateful I could be a part of it and that I decided to go. It was cool to meet all those guys and build some friendships. And to be part of a gold medal was really cool.

 

Did you have family over there watching? 

Yep, I did. My mom and dad were both there. They loved it. 

 

Can you tell us a little about their involvement in your hockey career?

Yeah, they’ve both done so much for me. They’ve been separated since I was young, so they kind of both just shared the roles. I was lucky to have outdoor rinks at both houses. I’m super grateful for everything they’ve done for me.

 

So which moment was your favourite? The World Championship, your first NHL game or your NHL Draft day?

Good question. You know, they’re all special. They’re all a little different. But I think probably playing the first NHL game is at the top. Just cause it’s kinda the one you most dream about as a kid. To accomplish that was pretty surreal. 

 

What was draft day like for you? 

My draft (2020) was actually during COVID, so it was all online. I was just at home with my family and friends. And really, I had no clue where I was gonna get drafted. I figured it would be in the first round but I didn’t know which team, so it was all a surprise. It was awesome when Buffalo picked me and it was cool to celebrate it with family and friends at home.

 

Do you remember a time as a teenager when the light bulb went off and you realized that maybe you have what it takes to play in the NHL someday? 

For me, I think when I was around 15 or 16, Before that, my whole minor hockey career, I only played AA. And I was getting cut from AAA teams and stuff. And then at 15, I played AAA my first year, and like halfway through the year I was leading the league in scoring. And I kind of started to realize maybe I could be good and could go somewhere. It all happened kind of quick.

 

Did you buy something cool when you got your first NHL pay cheque?

Honestly, I don’t think anything too crazy. I got a car like a couple years ago when I got my signing bonus. I got my own car! So that was nice. And then I kinda worked my way up. I made AHL money last year, so nothing too crazy yet. 

 

How do you prepare for games? Any interesting pre-game rituals?

Not really. I play sewer ball with the guys before games and I’m a huge, huge coffee guy… love the caffeine. I have one big coffee and maybe an espresso shot too before every game. I like good coffee.

 

 

 

Any hobbies or interests that don’t involve sports?

Not a lot. I’ll play video games during the season with the guys, but I’m terrible. So I get frustrated pretty easily and quit. But it’s fun to kill some time in the winter with the guys on the mic and everything, so I’ll go in spurts. I’ll play for a month and then won’t touch it for a couple months. I like watching shows as well, but I don’t have a ton of hobbies outside of sports.

 

What show do you usually recommend most to your friends?

Seinfeld. I love Seinfeld.

 

Do you have a favorite Ottawa restaurant pub or bar? 

I like Fratelli. I go there a lot. 

 

Have you ever had a job that isn’t hockey related? 

I worked on a Dragonfly golf course in Renfrew when I was 14 to 15. It’s a nice course. I was the cart boy. I’d just wash all the power carts and park them.

 

 

 

How would you describe your look, your style, or your clothing?

I’d say I’m pretty simple. I don’t think I have a ton of fashion sense, but I’d describe it as, “I do my best.”

 

What kind of music is your phone generally filled with?

I really just listen to country. The guys right now I like are Morgan Wallen and then Luke Combs. They’re pretty mainstream, but those guys are good. 

 

And so is Jack Quinn, the kid from the country who’s likely to be a big hit in Buffalo for a long time.

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