The hockey world today learned that longtime coach and Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Pat Quinn passed away on Sunday at Vancouver General Hospital at the age of 71 after a lengthy illness.
Upon hearing, Hockey Hall of Fame Vice-Chairman Jim Gregory made a statement.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat Quinn,” Gregory said. “Pat is one of hockey’s most respected individuals whose lifetime involvement as a player, coach and executive has made an indelible mark on the game, and our thoughts and prayers are with Sandra and all of Pat’s family and friends.”
The Hamilton, Ontario native began his junior playing career with the Hamilton Tiger Cubs and the Hamilton Kilty B’s of the Ontario Hockey Association. After graduating high school, having been declared ineligible by the NCAA to play for Michigan Tech he joined the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Central Alberta Hockey League (CAHL); the team winning the 1963 Memorial Cup that year.
Turning pro in the 1963-1964 season he began in the minor leagues, playing for the Eastern Hockey League, Central Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, being called up to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1968.
His rookie year with the Leafs, he is probably best remembered for his open-ice bodycheck on Bobby Orr in the 1969 playoffs against the Boston Bruins. As Bobby Orr mentioned in his book, Orr, My Story:
“Anyone who has followed my career will know that on that particular night, Pat Quinn put a pretty good lick on me,” Orr wrote. “Pat was a big boy, probably six feet three and 215 pounds, and he seemed even bigger, because he knew how to throw that weight around.”
As Orr lost consciousness, taking the hit on the chin, and not coming to until later in the hospital, the hit sparked a bench-clearing brawl at the game. And the next morning as Orr was released from the hospital he met someone who offered to “take care of” Quinn for Orr. Orr mentions that it was clear if Orr took the man up on his offer, that something terrible would have happened to Quinn. Of course, hockey players prefer to settle their own disputes out on the ice.
Quinn spent two season with the Maple Leafs and then he was claimed during the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft by the Vancouver Canucks where he played for two years. However, in the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft he was once again claimed, this time by the Atlanta Flames (known now as the Calgary Flames) where he served as their captain.
After retiring as a player, Quinn went on to serve as assistant coach or head coach for teams including the Philadelphia Flyers , the AHL Maine Mariners, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Canucks. He eventually concentrated on serving as President and General Manager of the Canucks in the mid 1990s. Internationally, Quinn was head coach for Team Canada in the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics; Team Canada for the 2006 Spengler Cup, the junior Team Canada in the 2008 IIHF World U18 Champions and the Canadian under-20 team in the 2009 World Junior Championships. In addition to winning gold medals from the 2002 Olympics, and with his two junior teams in 2008 and 2009, he was also awarded the Jack Adams Award, as coach of the year, in 1980 and 1992.
Current president of the Vancouver Canucks, and a 1988 NHL draft pick (second overall) by Quinn in 1988, Trevor Linden issued the following statement:
“We have lost a great man. It’s a sad day for hockey and for everyone who loves our game. On this difficult day I am thinking about Pat, his family and his friends, and how much he will be missed.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for Pat. He was a great leader and always a teacher. He taught me how to be a professional on and off the ice. He taught me how to play hockey the right way, how to win, and about the importance of respect and loyalty.
“Pat’s impact on our city has been immeasurable. He was responsible for bringing hockey to the forefront in Vancouver. He brought the pride back to the Canucks and today his finger prints and impact are still felt within this organization.”
“This is a tremendous loss for the hockey community,” said Toronto Maple Leafs President, Brendan Shanahan. “Pat will be revered not only for his great accomplishments in sport but also for his courage and strength in face of his illness, and his dedication to family.”
“It is a sad day for our sport. Pat Quinn was an outstanding hockey coach. He had an excellend career as a player, coach, general manager and hockey executive. He was terrific at everything he did, including Chair of the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Philadelphia Flyers Chairman Ed Snider. “He truly knew how to get our players to play hard every night. Through his leadership, motivation and drive, he led one of our most exciting teams—the streak team—during the 1979-80 season, which went 35 straight games without a loss en route to the Stanley Cup Finals.”
“This is truly a sad day for the hockey world. Pat Quinn was one of the most respected people in our business,” said Flyers president Paul Holmgren, who played under Quinn when he coached the Flyers. “A players coach at heart, his innovative systems and love of the game made it a delight for all who had the honor of playing for him and working with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat’s wife Sandra, his daughters Valierie and Callie and the entire Quinn family at this difficult time.”
“Whether he was playing for a team, coaching a team or building one, Pat Quinn was thoughtful, passionate and committed to success. Pat’s contributions to hockey, at every level, reflected the skills he possessed and the great respect with which he treated the sport,” National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement released today. “The National Hockey League, one of the many organizations to benefit from his devoted service, sends heartfelt condolences to Pat’s loved ones and his many friends around the hockey world.”
When death comes to someone who has done so much and been so involved with any one thing, as Quinn was with hockey, it becomes clear that no number of words can completely say what he did and his true impact. And this is so true when it comes to all the many ways that Quinn touched hockey at every level. May he join the hockey gods and continue to make his presence known.