I have a confession to make: I believe I've been guilty of underestimating Pat Quinn.
I had my reasons; he's made some strange comments in recent interviews, dislikes line matching, and I'll also admit that many of the people who are most enthusiastic about his joining the team are the sort of people who view the game from a radically different angle than myself.
Vic Ferrari made a comment in a recent post of his about a website called ASAP Sports, which is a treasure trove of information. For those interested, it has a variety of quotes from Pat Quinn during his time in Toronto. I'm going to be exploring them, a little bit at a time.
It wasn't just the quotes that helped change my mind about Quinn. I've been trying to read and learn more about him, because I have to confess that my knowledge of his work is limited; I'm simply not old enough to have a real first-hand feel for the man.
This article is instructive. We learn that Quinn earned a bachelor's degree in economics while playing for Vancouver. We also learn that he earned his law degree in between coaching gigs. These are non-trivial things; stupid men don't earn degrees while playing in the NHL, and stupid men don't get law degrees in between coaching jobs. We can say something else, too: men without tremendous amounts of drive do not do such things. Intelligence and drive are a fine combination for a man in a position of responsibility with a hockey team.
Some here may recall the Detroit/Carolina final back in 2002; I was cheering for Carolina because I am (and likely always will be) a big Arturs Irbe fan, and while I can admit respect for his incredible abilities I've always rather disliked Dominik Hasek. In any case, before Carolina advanced they played a very good, very injury-stricken Maple Leafs team - a team that featured Alyn McCauley as its first line centre due to the loss of Mats Sundin. I also recall Pat Quinn suffering from a heart condition of some sort, and missing at least one game. Assistant coach Rick Ley stood in for him.
When Quinn returned, he was asked about Ley. Here's the exchange:
Q. Can you comment on the job that Rick did in your absence overall?
COACH QUINN: They are good coaches. Proud to be working with them.
Q. Similar styles, you and Rick?
COACH QUINN: I don't imagine so. I think we are different people. Styles where? Behind the bench? During the game? That's the only place where it turns out majorly different. No, we are different guys, different place, different time.
I like that comment. I like it in particular coming from a man who will spend next season with Tom Renney - a line matcher and a guy who seems to thrive on territorial use of certain lines - as his assistant coach.