NHL Hockey: Pat Quinn
Date of birth: January 29, 1943
Place of birth: Hamilton, Ontario, CAN
Position: Player/Head Coach/GM
Leafs, Canucks, Flames, Oilers, Kings, Flyers, Team Canada
Playing career: 1963–1977
‘The Big Irishman’, as he is so well-known, was a long-time fixture in the NHL. He was raised in Hamilton and played hockey at various levels, before retiring and going on to gain his law degree from Widener University’s School of Law. He had previously achieved his B.A. in Economics while still playing in the NHL.
Though Quinn actually never took up a position as a lawyer, he managed to channel the knowledge gained to his front office duties as a coach and eventual general manager.
Quinn, as belies his tough nature, steadily worked his way up the ladder from junior ‘B’ hockey starting with the old Hamilton Tiger Cubs and Hamilton Kilty B’s in the OHA. He thought of testing college hockey, but since he had already signed over his contract rights to the Detroit Red Wings, his professional status prevented him from meeting the strict statutes of eligibility for that level at the time.
Instead, Quinn moved to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Central Alberta Hockey League, which proved a sound decision as he then managed to win the Memorial Cup in his only season with Edmonton.
Quinn moved up to the minor leagues where he played for a variety of teams before finally receiving his call-up to the NHL with Toronto in 1968 as a left sided defenceman with a mean streak.
In 1970, the Canucks claimed Quinn in the Expansion Draft and he stayed with the team for two seasons, where he managed 18 points and a redoubtable 212 penalty minutes.
The 1972 version of the Expansion Draft saw him move on to the Atlanta Flames.
Quinn retired as a player in 1977 leaving a lot of bruised and battered opponents in his wake.
Quinn’s first coaching assignment came with Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant immediately after retiring. Showing great promise as a coach, he was later asked to take the head position with Philly’s main minor affiliate in the AHL’s Maine Mariners.
Due to his success with Maine, Quinn was then instated as the head coach of the Flyers and managed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 1980 where he lost to the burgeoning dynasty of Al Arbour and the New York Islanders.
Quinn later left hockey to attain his law degree, then later signed up as coach with the Los Angeles Kings from 1984-86, before controversially being lured to Vancouver, resulting in sanctions from NHL President John Ziegler.
Quinn was very successful with the ‘Nucks, leading them to the playoffs multiple times, crowned by a seven game loss in the finals to another New York team in Iron Mike Keenan’s Rangers squad.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers were the final two stops on Quinn’s coaching carousel.
Pat Quinn was one of the hardest workers the league has ever seen in both his playing and administrative roles.
He earned the NHL’s Jack Adams top coach award twice (once each with Philadelphia and Vancouver). Quinn’s intellect was as strong as his work ethic and he is notably known as an excellent motivator of players.
Quinn’s time with the Canucks also saw him take on the general manager’s duties prior to coaching and it was thanks to him that the team’s route to the finals in 1994 was paved with the acquisition and development of Pavel Bure, Greg Adams, Kirk McLean, Geoff Courtnall and all-world captain Trevor Linden.
Despite the fact that he left Vancouver 1997 under a cloud following disputes with John McCaw Jr., who had assumed ownership from the Griffiths family, Quinn is probably the second greatest coach in team history.
Congrats to Pat. In 2012 he added one more award to his long list of accomplishments – the Order of Canada.