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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20 Responses to "Pat Quinn In A Box"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Just say no to Quinn, I would say. As someone who watched his Leafs play many many games let me add to the discussion, if I may.

    All of his greatest successes in Toronto came when they had excellent goaltending with Joseph and Belfour. His teams relied on those guys to bail them out again and again including those most famous of his triumphs, the playoff wins over Ottawa. Defensive zone coverage was poor, lots of odd man rushes against, defencemen guilty of the same errors over and over again. Whichever team he coaches had better have serious quality back there.

    Poor discipline and it starts with Quinn himself who never saw a ref he couldn’t complain about. His Leaf teams had a well deserved reputation for being whiners when it came to the officiating.

    Quinn’s ‘let them play, they’re professionals’ attitude might fly with a veteran team (2002 SLC?) but I think that while he is a smart and interesting guy (and a decent coach) he would probably be a terrible match for the Oilers.

  2. Shawn says:

    Read an interview with Pat Quinn where he said he gets very frustrated by people saying he’s not an Xs and Os guy as he was one of the first to use a whiteboard on the bench and in his early days was known as an Xs and Os guy.

    Those rookies in Toronto were a pretty weak group IMO outside maybe of Boyes who only really did anything years later. There were no top six stars among them who were held down. That team was built with vets.

  3. Quinn says:

    Eerg. Just say no to Quinn. (feel free to point out the irony)

    If it is like MacT with greater emphasis on weakness and less strength areas, this team would be taking a huge step backward.

  4. PDO says:

    Is it even possible to play Horcoff more than MacT did last season? :-).

    Good read, not a lot to say other than I like him more than most of the other options that have been floated around.

    … and I really don’t like all the Vancouver re-treads we’re hearing about.

  5. Chris says:

    If we’re going to have a non Xs and Os type guy I want it to be Messier as at least that would be awesome.

  6. Chris says:

    And why wouldn’t we want to mimic the Dynasty and their storied history of sucess PDO?

  7. delooper says:

    How about the Oilers bring in someone like Mats Waltin? Try and build on what they’ve got: a bunch of young, talented, relatively small forewards. Adjust the system rather than the players.

  8. Traktor says:

    Save the x’s and o’s for the assistants – more then the message you need someone who can deliver it.

    Quinn sound like a good fit.

  9. dstaples says:

    Is everyone sure what MacT said in public about Reasoner is what he said in private?

    I’m not. I don’t have the answer, but I do know the coach had a lot of say over all personnel matters, and to give him credit for wanting to keep Reasoner is a big stretch, IMO.

  10. Lowetide says:

    David Staples:

    Per Tencer's blog on the Oilers site:

    "I want Reasoner back for sure," MacTavish told me matter-of-factly. "He's a valuable member of our team. We'd be remisce in a lot of respects not to bring him back. We're hopeful that we can get him signed."

    and then:

    Kevin Lowe acknowledges Reasoner's value, but doesn't have the same cut-and-dry feeling as his head coach. "I've talked to Marty's agent saying we have interest in bringing Marty back but we also have a lot of bodies right now so we have to see what unfolds in the next weeks and months."

    Article is here:
    http://oilers.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=365472

  11. Bruce says:

    Not sure how much it matters nearly half a century later, but Quinn has a strong connection with Edmonton, he even won a Cup here … as a member of the Mem Cup champ Oil Kings of 1962-63. He was a major force on that club.

    Teammate Glen Sather also went on to a measure of notoriety.

    Quinn has won on every level but the Stanley Cup, no doubt an itch that continues to burn.

    Speaking of the Mem Cup, I caught the second half of the Rimouski-Windsor game today, and what a pulsating affair it was. Maybe the most action-packed game I’ve seen all season. Something of everything.

  12. oilerdago says:

    LT: I think you’ve pointed out the one reason why Quinn will not come here – this team is not anywhere close to competing for the Cup and that’s the one thing he lacks on his resume.

    iirc, I read somewhere right after the season ended that he almost wouldn’t mind if Edmonton didn’t call and was more interested winding up behind the bench in a place like Minnesota.

  13. Black Dog says:

    Traktor – problem is Quinn’s main sidekick is Rick Ley.

    The guy ran the D in Toronto and it was a gong show. Guys out of position, bad decision making all over the place.

    One last thing – guys on those T.O. teams would make the same mistakes over and over again and never pay with icetime – bad penalties, poor decisions, lazy or selfish play. Guys never paid the price.

    Quinn’s Toronto teams played tough hockey and they were fun to watch but he’d be a poor fit in Edmonton I think.

  14. PunjabiOil says:

    I don’t really want to see Quinn here anymore. Nor Renney.

    I can live with Crawford.

    The guy I really want is Bob Hartley – guy is a winner.

  15. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    From Matheson this morning for your consideration:

    “The Edmonton Oilers were given the green light to talk to San Jose Sharks assistant coach Todd Richards about their vacant head coaching job. They had to ask permission. Richards spent his first season working with Todd McLellan after being the Pittsburgh Penguins American Hockey League farmhand coach in Wilkes Barre.”

    Asking permission is generally a sign the guy is very much on the radar.

  16. Coach pb9617 says:

    This Richards thing is REALLY interesting. He did well with the Baby Pens/Oilers too, and is quite familiar with Gilbert, Pouliot, Brodziak, Jacques, Nilsson, Stone, Spurgeon and JDD.

    He also helped turn Tyler Kennedy’s game from speed into whatever it takes.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Richards was a guy whose name was out there right from the start:

    http://lowetide.blogspot.com/2009/04/names.html

    Coach makes a good point about the baby Pens so maybe this could be payback for setting Julien free.

  18. godot10 says:

    If Pat Quinn is coming, he better be leaving Rick Ley at home

    No incompetant cronies as assistant coaches.

  19. uni says:

    Quinn would be an excellent coach as long as you have a strong GM that can keep him in check, and strong assistant coaches to cross the t’s and dot the i’s.

    A strong GM to keep him from shipping out any quality youth in a push for veterans, and strong assistants that can run the defense and line matching, leaving him much like an NFL coach largely to motivate, get the most out of his players, and get them to buy into the system.

    Problem is, I don’t know how much Quinn would buy into a coaching by committee and how much input he’d accept with tactical decisions.

    BD is correct, the Leafs were a helluva fun team to watch, but they were very much of a loose run and gun, let Joseph or Belfour bail you out from cardiac episodes every third shift constructs.

    As for trades, he came out as a wash. Johnson for Tucker was a win, Kristich for a pick was a loss, Karpotsev + 4th for McCabe big win, Boyes + McCauley + 1st for Nolan very big loss. I’d say I can understand the Nolan trade, he was going all out and getting a 40 goal man back to win now. If you look at his trades towards the end, it was obvious he was going all out at the deadlines to load up on vets for a run; understandable but still mistakes.

  20. Master Lok says:

    no to Quinn. If you need a strong GM to protect the organization from Quinn, and strong assistants to do the X’s and O’s, … is it really worthwhile to bring in Quinn in the first place?

    If the Oilers average age was similar to Detroit’s, then maybe it might be a good idea. But we’re not, so why not go for a younger coach that the organization can grow up around?

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