Reported by: Alice D’Eon
Hockey legend Pat Quinn passed away on Sunday night after fighting a long battle with illness. He was 71.
The legacy Quinn leaves
Quinn wore many hats throughout the course of his more than four-decade-long hockey career. After playing for five years right out of high school in minor leagues, he was called to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1968. After retiring from the game as team captain for the Atlanta Flames in 1977 due to an ankle injury, Quinn went on to coach for several franchises. Quinn brought the Canucks to the Stanley Cup playoffs as head coach and general manager in 1994. He is known for coaching Team Canada in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where they won their first gold medal since 1952.
In his first public address since Quinn’s passing, Canucks president Trevor Linden spoke on Monday morning about Quinn’s unique teaching ability and his commitment to his players.
“He was a great man because he cared. He loved his players and he cared about people. He had an outer exterior of gruff and tough, but he loved his players and I think people saw that,” Linden said. “I would not be the man I am today if it weren’t for Pat.”
Remembered by players, teammates and colleagues
Stan Smyl, now the senior advisor to the Canucks’ general manager, played his eighteenth and final year with the Canucks with Quinn as coach.
Smyl said Quinn was known for holding especially long practices and bringing out the best in his players.
“Pat Quinn was the gentleman that changed this organization around,” Smyl said. He said Quinn was responsible for bringing in players that would work hard, to the effect that at the end of the night, fans would respect the work ethic of the players whether the Canucks won or lost.
“He stood up for his teammates, he stood up for the organization and he stood up for the people of B.C., the fans here. That was Pat.”
More than just a coach
Hockey great and former Canuck, Orland Kurtenbach, was there to reflect on his experience with his ex-teammate.
To convey the kind of caring individual that Quinn was, Kurtenbach told a story of a visit he made to Toronto in 1999 to see family. He called Quinn, who was then the head coach and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, to ask about getting some tickets for himself and his two grandchildren. Quinn came through with the tickets and treated the kids with a visit to the Maple Leafs’ locker room. After the game, Quinn asked if Kurtenbach would be in town for the playoffs. Although they both knew it would be next to impossible to obtain tickets, Kurtenbach left a home number just in case.
“On the day of the game, this is what really shakes me up now, he chased me down on the golf course and had two tickets for me for the game,” Kurtenbach said. “On a day like that, he’s the coach and general manager, and makes the time to look after an old friend. So God bless him.”
Linden said Quinn believed in trusting his players and giving them the opportunity to play meaningful minutes, a philosophy which he said is reflected in the way Willie Desjardins coaches the team today.
Linden said the Canucks are still discussing the way in which they will honour Quinn at their game on Tuesday evening against the New Jersey Devils.
Trevor Linden remembers Pat Quinn in Monday’s press conference, and in an interview with Alice D’Eon.