Toronto Maple Leafs: Former Head Coach Pat Quinn Passes Away


Toronto Maple Leafs: Former Head Coach Pat Quinn Passes Away

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the hockey world lost an important member of its family, as it was announced today that Pat Quinn passed away at the age of 71.

Quinn had the reputation as a hard nosed player who brought that tough personality behind the bench. He made his NHL debut with the Leafs in 1968, where he was best remembered for a controversial hit on Bobby Orr in the 1969 playoffs. He would eventually retire in 1977 after suffering a serious ankle injury.

Apr 13, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Pat Quinn is inducted to the Ring of Honor at Rogers Arena before the start of the first period as the Vancouver Canucks host the Calgary Flames. The Vancouver Canucks won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn was well-known for his managing and coaching career. He started his coaching career with the Philadelphia Flyers where during the 1979-80 season he led the team to a record breaking 35 unbeaten streak. The Flyers lost in the Stanley Cup final to the New York Islanders.

After a brief stint as coach of the Los Angeles Kings, Quinn was named the President and General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks. Quinn was monumental in building the Canucks by trading for goalie Kirk McLean, while also drafting Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure. He would assume the role of head coach in 1991 and lead the Cancucks to a Stanley Cup final in 1994, where they lost to the New York Rangers.

After being fired by the new ownership in Vancouver, Quinn was named the head coach of the Leafs in 1998, where he had a major impact on the culture of the team. The Leafs saw a dramatic improvement by reaching the conference final, but lost to the Buffalo Sabres. Quinn was then named GM as well as coach.

The Leafs made the playoffs in five of six years under Quinn and reached the Conference Finals in 1999 and 2002, but were unable to win the Cup. Quinn was fired from the Leafs after they failed to reach the playoffs in 2006, even though the Leafs finished the season on a 9-1-2 run with a lot of injuries to veteran players that GM John Ferguson Jr. signed. Ironically the team would have to rely on the younger players that Quinn drafted, but in the end friction between Ferguson Jr and Quinn led to his departure.

Apr 13, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Pat Quinn is inducted into the Ring of Honor before the start of the first period as the Vancouver Canucks host the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn took a break from coaching in the NHL for three years, but coached Team Canada at the Spengler Cup and World Juniors, where he won the team’s last Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships. He would have a brief stint as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers in 2009, but that was short-lived after Tom Renney replaced him in 2010.

Quinn’s ended Team Canada’s Gold Medal drought at the Olympics, winning Canada’s first Gold Medal in 2002 after going 50 years without one. He also coached Team Canada to victory at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

He was also a co-owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants and appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012.

Nov 14, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Hockey Hall of Fame inductee

Peter Forsberg

(left) is greeted by Hall of famers

Mats Sundin

(right) and

Borje Salming

and Lanny MacDonald prior to a game at the Air Canada Centre between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Committee, Quinn made the call to Mats Sundin when he was selected in 2012. Sundin recalled the phone call as an emotional moment between him and his former coach. “He called me and said, ‘Mats, it’s Pat Quinn, you’re going to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame,”’ Sundin recalled. “I think we were both crying at the time a little bit on the phone. We had some special moments together, and there was a lot of mutual respect.”

Leafs fans remember Quinn for being a major influence in Sundin’s career in Toronto and having the respect of his players. He passed away after fighting an illness that was made known when news about Gordie Howe‘s stroke came to light. Quinn will be missed by the hockey community and hopefully the Canucks and Leafs will have a tribute night to commemorate his memory.

How will you remember Pat Quinn, what was your most memorable moment from him?