The hockey world was shaken today with the news of Pat Quinn’s death, at the age of 71.
Other than getting his autograph when I was ten years old, I never got the chance to meet Pat Quinn (lucky for me, he was nice enough to stick around in the parking lot on fan appreciation day). But still, I was shook-up with the news of his passing. Judging from the outpouring of emotion on Twitter today, I wasn’t the only one.
He was loved by fans:
RIP Pat Quinn. You were an iconic part of my childhood growing up. I'll never forget the '94 run and the tossing of the gum. #CanucksLegend
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) November 24, 2014
Farewell to the big Irishman. The first GM to make the Canucks relevant. Thank you Pat Quinn. Thoughts to your family and friends.
— somebody (@Steve_May) November 24, 2014
Not sure how to put my feelings about Pat Quinn into words. He made my favourite team relevant, and was a kind, caring man. Always. #RIPPat
— Coop (@1Cooop) November 24, 2014
— Ian (@ianlusher) November 24, 2014
He was beloved by members of the mainstream media:
Pat Quinn hated the trap, loved speed and skill, was a fantastic storyteller, and made more people love hockey. Hockey needs more Pat Quinns
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) November 24, 2014
God bless Pat Quinn and his family.
— Don Taylor (@DonTaylor5) November 24, 2014
And he was loved by his peers:
Saddened about the news of The passing of our Coach Pat Quinn mentor,leader and made everyone around him to become a better human being!
— Cliff Ronning (@CliffRonning7) November 24, 2014
#Canucks Kirk McLean on Pat Quinn: "He was like a second father to me and I'm pretty sure he was like that to a lot of the younger guys."
— Cam Tucker (@CamTucker_Sport) November 24, 2014
Sad hearing of Pat Quinn passing He gave me my 1st coaching job, supported me throughout my career. RIP Pat enjoy the beer +cigars in heaven
— Marc Crawford (@CroMarcCrawford) November 24, 2014
Not many people have influenced the Vancouver Canucks like Pat Quinn.
Quinn was an original Canuck, playing in Vancouver during their first two seasons in the NHL. He was a rugged stay-at-home defenceman, as evidenced by 18 points and 212 penalty minutes in 133 regular season games for the Canucks.
But it was behind the bench and in the front office that Quinn made his biggest impact with the organization.
Quinn was brought back to the Canucks organization in 1987 be the team’s president and general manager. The Canucks were a terrible team for most of their 17-year history before Quinn took control. Vancouver had won just three playoff series (all in 1982) and had just two seasons with winning records.
The Pacific Coliseum was usually sparsely populated for home games and the franchise had yet to really make their mark.Trevor Linden shared a story on TSN 1040 today saying that there were only 8,000 people in the stands for his first ever home game. The Canucks were not cool. The Canucks were not relevant. Pat Quinn changed that.
Pat Quinn’s first big move was to bring-in Kirk McLean and Greg Adams in a trade with New Jersey. In his first draft in 1988, he selected the most popular player in franchise history, Trevor Linden. In the 1989 draft, he selected the first superstar in Canucks history, Pavel Bure. He made blockbuster trades, like the six-player swap in 1991 that brought Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, Sergio Momesso and Robert Dirk to Vancouver in exchange for Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher. Perhaps his best trade came in 1996 when he acquired Markus Naslund for Alex Stojanov.
Pat Quinn was also one of the best coaches in Canucks history. He was behind the bench for the Canucks from 1991 to 1994, and again briefly in 1996. In the three full seasons that Quinn served as head coach, the Canucks won two division championships and made it to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Quinn was a player’s coach. Seen by many as a father figure, he was well known for trusting his players and coaching an entertaining style of play. His players loved him. You can really get a sense of what Pat Quinn meant to his players by listening to Cliff Ronning talk about him today on TSN 1040.
It’s for all of these reasons that Quinn was put into the Canucks Ring of Honour last April.
Of course Pat Quinn’s career includes many accomplishments outside of his time with the Canucks, which is why he is likely to be entered into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Quinn is fifth all-time in NHL coaching wins and coached the 2002 Olympic gold medal winning hockey team.
He was taken from us far too early. He will be missed.
Feature Image: nhl.com