Quinn has been fully invested in bringing the Sabers organization ‘to a better place’

Jack Quinn. (Photo: MICHELINE V/Americans of Rochester)

By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA

Tuesday night, Jack Quinn had a defining event in what will most likely turn out to be a landmark NHL career when he played his first game with the Buffalo Sabres.

The 20-year-old left-winger also played well, earning praise from Sabers coach Don Granato.

And then, 24 hours after completing his rookie lap around the KeyBank Center ice and facing the Tampa Bay Lightning, he was back with the Rochester Americans.

However, Quinn didn’t just return to her body. He picked up where he left off, scoring one goal and assisting three more in Wednesday’s 7-6 win over the Utica Comets.

There was no send-off hangover, no acting-out effort. He was all-in, which is one of the reasons the organization believes they have a special player in the making.

Maybe the adjustment was a little easier since Quinn learned Sunday that his recall would only be for one game. Still, he played as if Wednesday was the most important game of his season.

“It’s not an easy game to pick up,” Amerks coach Seth Appert said. “You get your first NHL game, something he worked so hard for, and he earned it. And he gets up there and plays really well against the two-time Stanley Cup champions.

“And then back to Rochester. What that says about Jack, the way he played tonight and his emotional and physical investment, is how much he cares about his teammates and what a great teammate and winner he is.

Which explains why two Americans, Ryan Scarfo and Mattias Samuelsson, were rinkside in Buffalo on Tuesday night, wearing Quinn 22 Amerk jerseys inside out and banging on the glass as he skated.

“He’s loved in this (locker room),” Appert said. “We have a room very close. There are a lot of guys who really, really care about each other, something that we appreciate on a high level, from (general manager) Kevin Adams right down in our organization.

“We want players who want to be part of the solution, to bring this organization to a better place, and Jack is one of those guys. He treats his teammates as equals. When a player of his caliber, where he was drafted (eighth overall in 2020), acts with no rights and is a total team player, he wins a lot of hearts in his bedroom.

Quinn, however, said Scarfo and Samuelsson’s presence in Buffalo says more about them.

“I think it shows what kind of guys they are, what kind of teammates they are,” he said.

Quinn, 20, ranks eighth in AHL scoring with 13 goals, 17 assists and 30 points in 21 games. He’s second-best among rookies (Stockton’s Jakob Pelletier is 11-20-31 in 30 games), and his 1.43 points-per-game percentage is fourth-best among players who’ve skated in at least 15 matches.

Appert said Quinn took every opportunity to learn and improve.

“He doesn’t see Rochester as a stopover or stopover on the way to something bigger,” Appert said. “His goals are out there, he is going to play in the NHL and it will soon be a day for a long time. But he doesn’t mentally let himself be there. He’s completely invested in being an American in Rochester and with his teammates here.

Aubrey L. Morgan