By Ryan McCracken on August 10, 2018.
On the cusp of his first professional season, David Quenneville is spending time with his family.
The 20-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman signed a three-year entry-level contract with the New York Islanders in April, and made his professional debut in a three-game stint with the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers to close out the season.
With Islanders camp on the horizon, Quenneville says it’s the usual routine — skating with his brothers and working out with uncle-in-law and potential NHL teammate Johnny Boychuk.
“I’ve been training here the last couple of years with my brothers and it’s just been really good,” he said. “Me and Johnny work out together, we skate together, so it’s great having him around. Just being able to kind of enjoy the summer but at the same time put the work in and hopefully get ready for a season together one day.”
Quenneville’s brother John has spent the past two seasons bouncing between the New Jersey Devils and their AHL affiliate, while his oldest brother Peter has been playing overseas in Norway, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Both Peter and John spent their WHL careers with the Brandon Wheat Kings and were able to both spend one season on the ice against their youngest brother.
Hoping to follow in similar footsteps and forge a career at hockey’s highest level, Quenneville says he was thrilled to close out his season in Bridgeport and measure himself against the next stage of competition.
“I think that was huge. Obviously coming off kind of a disappointing playoffs for our team after we had a lot of injuries through that first round, going to Bridgeport was great for me — to get a good taste of the pro game and start to understand what I need to improve on from a player’s standpoint on the ice.”
But Quenneville isn’t the type to forget his past. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound blueliner etched his name into Tigers history by setting a new career defensive scoring record at 214 points in 251 games — passing Kris Russell’s previous mark of 196 in February of his 19-year-old season. He says he will always credit the efforts of Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston taking a chance on him at 10th overall in the 2013 bantam draft and helping mold him into an NHL prospect.
“Playing under Shaun has been phenomenal for my development. I think Shaun is my favourite coach that I’ve ever had,” said Quenneville, who led all WHL defencemen with 26 goals and 80 points. “He really took a lot of care and pride into not only myself but Mason too. With what he was able to teach us, I think he’s a big part of where I’ve gotten myself today.”
Quenneville is set to depart for Islanders camp in New York at the end of the month. For the time being, he’s hoping to spend some time with Tigers teammate Josh Williams — who is competing for Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton. That is, if he can get in touch with him.
“I was thinking about going to see Willie tonight if that worked out, but I think they’re under pretty tight wraps over there,” said Quenneville, who won gold under Clouston at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in the Czech Republic. “I talked to (Williams) just as he made the team and I haven’t heard from him, but they’re pretty tight with the phone. Even when I was with Clouston in Europe there was one time where we didn’t see our phone for like four days.”
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