Being the new guy isn’t anything unusual for Kyle Quincey. Neither is being the older, wiser guy among a group of defensemen, the one that rookies look to for guidance and advice.
Both of those roles suit the adaptable Quincey, signed by the Wild on July 1 to lend some experience to the third pair patrolling the blue line. At age 32, he’s on his sixth NHL team and third in the past 11 months. While he’s counting on his meat-and-potatoes defense to endear him to another fresh set of teammates, the Wild values his willingness to play big brother to Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson, the youngsters trying to win a place on the roster.
Quincey can laugh about that status — “Most of the guys are younger than me,” he said — but he’s serious about passing on his knowledge. During his early years in the NHL with Detroit and Colorado, he benefited from the generosity of long-tenured teammates such as Chris Chelios, Nicklas Lidstrom, Adam Foote and Scott Hannan.
He views himself as the next man up in that generational chain. Monday, Quincey began imparting his wisdom in game situations, as the Wild opened preseason play at Winnipeg.
“For the past few years, all of my [defensive] partners have been a couple of years younger than me,” said Quincey, who has played 568 NHL games dating to 2005-06. “Being the older guy mentoring the guy coming up is fun. I enjoy it.
“This is something that comes with being a veteran player. We’re going to do our best to help the team win, and part of that is sharing things you’ve learned along the way with younger guys who probably haven’t seen some of those things. I was very, very lucky to learn from the guys I learned from, and I’m just passing their knowledge on to others.”
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said when the Wild signed Quincey, he was viewed as a solid defenseman who could pair with a young player still learning the nuances of the NHL. Quincey is projected as the team’s fifth defenseman, behind the top pairs of Ryan Suter-Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon.
Before camp began, the coach said three other defensemen — Reilly, Olofsson and Ryan Murphy — also were in the mix for the top six spots.
“It’s all what you do on the ice,” Boudreau said. “They will all be given opportunities to play. That’s what we like, when you talk about depth and friendly competition.”
Quincey is prepared to do whatever is asked of him. Though he is a lefthanded shot, he is slotted to play on the right side, because both Reilly and Olofsson are lefties. Quincey has played the right side occasionally for six seasons, he said, and is adept enough to switch from shift to shift.
Though Quincey is comfortable with jumping up into the play and contributing on offense, he is proud of his identity as a defensive specialist. He is a strong penalty killer and loves engaging in one-on-one duels in front of the net. In addition to sheer effort, Quincey’s game is built on attention to the small details of defense, knowledge that aids him in stealing time and space from opponents.
That’s the kind of information he plans to pass to Olofsson and Reilly. He gained experience working alongside young defensemen last season in New Jersey and Columbus, and he already is building relationships among his new teammates in St. Paul.
While other players might grow weary after frequent moves, Quincey said he relishes the opportunity to make new friends in the NHL family — particularly in an organization such as the Wild.
“I’m so happy to be a part of this team,” Quincey said. “I think we have a great opportunity here to do some special things.”