Pat Quinn In A Box

This is Pat Quin wearing the uniform of the Tulsa Oilers. This would be about 1968, and Quinn was probably 25 years old when the photo was taken.

I remember Quinn as a defenseman. He was a tough, stay-at-home type who could punish you and truth be told he was an above average defender by the time he hit Atlanta. So, as is often the case with defensemen, Detroit uncovered the gem, Toronto polished it, and Atlanta reaped the rewards. In this way, Pat Quinn and Jason Smith had similar careers (although Smith had the better one).

Pat Quinn is an extremely famous coach, and has been since having tremendous success with the Philadelphia Flyers in the late 1970s. In parts of 4 seasons with the Flyers, Quinn’s team won the 1980 pennant and were quarter-finalists twice. It was a good team, and Quinn had immediate success just a little over one calendar year after his playing career ended. He began his coaching career as an assistant to Fred Shero, who is coaching royalty in hockey terms.

After Philadelphia, Pat Quinn coached a struggling Los Angeles franchise for a time and then caught fire again in Vancouver. During his 280-game stay in Lotusland, Quinn’s Canucks won the pennant in 1994 and came within inches of winning the Stanley.

I suspect that one thing (no ring) is the biggest reason he’s still interested in a coaching job. Pat Quinn is 66-years old, and the thought of flying all over North America with a struggling hockey club can’t be terribly appealing for a guy who has been there, done that. No sir, I believe Quinn wants a Stanley and that’s the reason he’s interested in coaching again.

Which makes him a long shot for employment in Edmonton. Here’s Pat Quinn in a Box, I’m using Toronto exclusively since the previous coaching jobs were so far in the rearview:

  1. Does he roll 4 lines or sit people on the end of the bench? On the 98-99 Leaf team, there were three players who saw fewer than 10 minutes a night (Tie Domi, Kris King and Chris McAllister). He gave Mats Sundin 15EV minutes and 4 on the PP but that’s just good business. His 2001-02 team was a good one (100 regular season points) and had a similar number of players with 10 EV minutes or less (Domi again, Wade Belak, Alyn McCauley and Garry Valk). He once again ran Sundin more. His final team (05-06) saw a distinct change, with no less than 7 regulars playing less than 10 EV minutes per night (they were Chad Kilger, Kyle Wellwood, Tie Domi, Wade Belak, Jeff O’Neill, Matt Stajan and Clark Wilm). He also reduced Sundin’s minutes to 12.5EVs and it looks like Quinn really cheated on the PP with this team (more later). Based on all of the information available, I’d say Quinn never really rolled 4 lines per night. He had his role players like Domi and he brought them out like circus clowns, as needed. Should the Oilers employ Quinn, the roster is likely to have some MacIntyre’s and some Belak’s on it.
  2. Does Quinn roll 3 D pairings or stick with his best 4 men on the blue? At EVs, he’s always had 6 men in the mix. This speaks a little to line matching (Quinn’s not known for it) but also to the possibility of being caught in this vicious western conference where smart men stand behind the bench. In 98-99, his top 6 EV defenders had about 3 minutes difference in TOI (Berard 17:19, Kaberle 13:59) which is unusual based on the time I’ve spent looking at this stuff. The 2001-02 team was similar again, as was the 05-06 team. He likes 6 reliable defensemen and then rolls them at EVs with (apparently) little concern for the size and speed of the bus headed for them. This is a concern.
  3. How Does he Handle the Rookies? Based on appearances, he’d rather have veterans. Quinn brought along a plethora of youngsters during his time in Toronto, but most of the time they were used as trade bait for veterans. We can’t pin all of it on Quinn (Mike Smith I believe traded Jason Smith), but we can say with authority that the Leafs brought in some quality youth (Kaberle, Antropov, Stajan, Steen, McCauley) and the organization sent a lot of it away. I would love to know his role in this transaction: Leafs trade Brad Boyes and Alyn McCauley (plus a 1st rd pick) to San Jose for Owen Nolan. That’s quite a denver boot.
  4. How Many of these Rookies Had Major Roles as Rookies? I think that’s the big difference we’ll see between MacT and Quinn. In a way, MacT was an organizational coach, putting players in roles because he could see the future and the team felt (Gagner as an example, or Hemsky earlier) it would be better to learn on the job at the highest levels. Quinn was more about having a veteran available, in fact very good prospects were sent away for veteran checkers under his watch. Having said that, players like Kaberle, Antropov and Steen had significant roles as rookies.
  5. What kind of Rookie Stepped up under Quinn? I don’t see a Pisani-type, but several of them were multi-dimensional talents. I’m not going to give extra credit for Kaberle, but Quinn was patient with Ponikarovsky. I would have thought Adam Mair would have been successful under this coach, and he probably would have been but the Leafs needed Aki Berg.
  6. Is there an area of concern with regard to rookies? Quinn prefers veterans (look at any of his teams, there’s a Jason Allison or Eric Lindros up front or a blueline filled with Jyrki Lumme and Berg) and that backs up the rookies. I think that’s a good thing overall and suspect MacT’s mentioning Reasoner as a guy he wanted to keep last summer would have been repeated (and more loudly) by Quinn if he were here. I also think Quinn’s time with the WJC team was an attempt to put him in a new light–but that’s just a guess on my part. Overall though I think there’s a much better chance the Oilers lose a quality player under Quinn than there was with MacTavish.
  7. Does he have specialists for certain roles? Yes, and as time passed in Toronto I think he set up the roster to accommodate it. In 2005-06, Kaberle and McCabe spent 7.5 minutes a night on the powerplay, Allison and Sundin spent 5.5 minutes on the PP and Tucker spend 5.0 on the PP. Eric Lindros spent a paltry 4.5 minutes a game on the ice with the man advantage. That’s a specialty team!
  8. What are his Strengths? He’s a motivator, he commands respect because of his elder statesman status and Quinn is good with the media. He does this while still being considered a “player’s coach” which is a neat trick. His press conferences after big losses always sound like a disappointed Dad who is still proud of his kids but knows there’s work to do. He’s a throwback coach, more relationship than video and specifics.
  9. What are his Weaknesses? Nut and bolts (x’s and o’s) coaching and I’d say he gets a little stubborn on players (as did MacT). I can’t think of a playoff series where anyone suggested Quinn outcoached the other man but that might just be a faulty memory on my part. He is not a technical coach, and as mentioned above line-matching and Pat Quinn are not often written in the same sentence.
  10. What got him fired? Too long at the fair, just like MacTavish.
  11. Which current Oilers would benefit from Quinn’s presence? I think all of the veterans would get more icetime, and I also think Quinn has the balls to ask for what’s needed on the roster. If he is (as I’ve implied) in “win now” mode, then the Oilers are likely to bring back Roloson and add a veteran center. I can’t say why, but it’s my belief a Dustin Penner would benefit from Quinn’s coaching (I should qualify that, ANY coach is going to find Penner a motivated pupil this fall).
  12. Which current Oilers might be hurt by Quinn’s presence? All of the kids save possibly Peckham. Eberle would be unlikely to make the big club (which is a good thing) and Quinn might back up the time-on-ice for some of the well known kids too (Gagner, Cogliano).
  13. How many current Oilers would he know (as players) well? Not many. Pat Quinn is not from the Roger Neilson school of research.

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