The Vancouver Canucks play the Philadelphia Flyers and will pay tribute to one of each franchise’s most legendary members, Pat Quinn, on Tuesday night.
The game – played on St. Patrick’s Day – will lead with a Pat-centered party on the plaza outside downtown’s Rogers Arena, and the unveiling of Pat Quinn Way – a newly named street, to replace the 700 block of Abbott Street.
The architect of one of the franchise’s most successful decades, Quinn was proud of his Paddy heritage and is often referred to as The Big Irishman.
Quinn passed away last November, losing a battle with a “long illness”. He coached the Vancouver Canucks from 1990 to 1997, serving as the club’s president and general manager for party of his tenure and famously leading the team on a surprise playoff run in 194, which ended in a loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“I don’t think you could feel better about a group of athletes at the end of it all than I felt about these young men,” Quinn told Barry MacDonald in an interview for Canucks TV a few years ago (video below).
“They poured everything out, every last one of them… The result was not the right one. And those kids deserved better. I went the room and shook each of their hands and told them that they were the best.”
Quinn, who drafted both Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure, began his coaching career with tonight’s enemy, the Flyers, in 1980. In his first year behind an NHL bench, Quinn took Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup Final. He would never win a Cup during his career, but finished with 684 wins as a coach and is a shoo-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He also coached for the L.A. Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Edmonton Oilers, perennially known as a true players’ coach.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for Pat,” Linden said, the day after the coach’s passing. “He was a great leader and always a teacher. He taught me how to be a professional on and off the ice. He taught me how to play hockey the right way, how to win, and about the importance of respect and loyalty.”
(More videos of Pat Quinn are below, from the Vancouver Canucks’ YouTube channel.)
Puck Drop: 7 p.m. from Rogers Arena (Sportsnet Pacific on TV; TSN 1040 on Radio)
On the ice, tonight’s game features two clubs only nine points but a world apart.
While the Canucks are playing for playoff position, with the inside track right now on Calgary, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, and San Jose, the Flyers will need a miracle run – and a collapse from Boston and Ottawa – to make the dance.
Philadelphia is 11th in the Eastern Conference, despite a roster led by high-scoring All-Stars Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
In their only meeting this year, Vancouver beat the Flyers 4-0 in December.
Ryan Miller had a shutout that night, makes 30 saves, but Eddie Lack will get the start for Vancouver on Tuesday. With Miller injured, Jacob Markstrom will wear the cap on the bench.
“We had some success against them earlier in the year, but now they’re fighting for a playoff spot,” said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who returned from injury on Saturday after missing more than 20 games, in a 4-1 win over Toronto. “They’re gonna be desperate, they’re gonna be hungry. We’re not in much of a different situation, where we’re still fighting to get into the playoffs. So, we’ve gotta find a way to get points.
“It’ll be a good, physical game. And obviously a game that we’d like to get the two points.”
Tonight’s affair is also an interesting match-up of special teams. The Flyers have the NHL’s third-ranked powerplay this season, but have been anchored by a 29th-ranked penalty kill. The Canucks, meanwhile, have the third-best penalty kill in the NHL and the 21st ranked powerplay.
VIDEO: Preview – Canucks vs Flyers (March 17, 2015)
VIDEO: Pat Quinn – Roots of Legendary Toughness (Canucks on YouTube)
VIDEO: Pat Quinn – The Joy and Heartbreak of the ’94 Final