Cobden, Ont.'s Jack Quinn makes NHL debut
COBDEN, ONT. -- The pride of Cobden, Ont., Jack Quinn, will make his NHL debut Tuesday night.
The 20-year-old was drafted 8th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2020 NHL draft and will suit up Tuesday evening against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 p.m. in Buffalo.
"This is an opportunity for us, a window of opportunity we have to put him in the lineup on Dylan Cozens' line," said Sabres head coach Don Granato, via the Buffalo Sabres' Twitter page ahead of the matchup.
"It's promising," said Quinn. "I think it's exciting and speaks to the culture we have in Rochester and how much guys are improving."
For Quinn, it's a dream realized. The Ottawa Valley native started his journey at St. Joseph's High School in Renfrew, Ont., where former principal Brennan Trainor saw Quinn arrive in Grade 9, and walk across the stage at graduation in grade twelve.
"I texted Jack yesterday," Trainor tells CTV News Ottawa, "and I did tell him that there was a lot of us rooting him on, and this is his day. This is Jack's time to really celebrate."
Whether it's at Trainor's home in Douglas, the houses of his former classmates in Renfrew, or in Quinn's hometown of Cobden, the Ottawa Valley is set to be the NHL debutant's loudest cheering section on the night, rather than the stands in Buffalo.
"It's just really special to be a part of this community and go anywhere, and know that everyone knows Jack is going to be playing tonight. Everybody knows that he's worked hard for this accomplishment."
That's a sentiment Quinn's AHL coach with the Rochester Americans, Seth Appert, agrees with.
"Because it's been earned, that's why I know he's going to seize it," said Appert via the Sabres' Twitter. "That doesn't mean he's going to have a hat trick or all these other things. But if he would have played last year, it would have been not earned."
"(I'm) improving on my strengths too," said Quinn on the growth of his game to get him to his debut. "Offensively, being able to play with guys on my back, I think I was already good at but just continuing to get better."
There are no guarantees at this level, but many from the Ottawa and valley area are hoping they can soon call Quinn a superstar from their own backyard.
"I think there's a very good chance of that," says Kenny Walls of TSN 1200, and the play-by-play commentator of the Ottawa 67's. "This is an extremely skilled kid and he has been ever since going back to his minor hockey days in the valley."
Walls called Quinn's games for two and a half years with the OHL franchise, and says while the 20-year-old may still have some learning to do at the top level, those all around him should be brimming with pride.
"To have him as one of our own from the Ottawa area is massive," says Walls. "And to do it all the way through; minor hockey into the OHL is fantastic, and hopefully he does reach his potential with the Sabres.