As a general manager, Quinn has mentored the likes of Brian Burke, Dave Nonis and George McPhee. As a coach, he was tremendously successful in Philadelphia, and he's the last Leafs bench boss to produce a competitive team. On top of that, he is fiercely loyal and a very fair man. What's not to like about a guy like this?
Critics would say that Quinn has never been an X's and O's guy. Maybe, but the essence of coaching is far deeper than a Hockey Canada manual. It is more about managing people, setting expectations for players and making them accountable for achieving those goals.
The best coaches I have ever been around have one thing in common: they know their players' emotional and psychological makeup and, armed with that knowledge, find ways to motivate then. Further, they inspire a loyalty from their players, who come to realize over time that the guy behind the bench wants them to succeed. From all that I know, Pat Quinn is this type of man and coach.
The biggest challenge facing Quinn: overcoming the notion that a guy in his late 60s can't hack it anymore. There is no doubt that the coaching profession is a physical and emotional grind. There are no days off, not really, for the coach that calls the shots. Still, there seems to be plenty left in terms of coaching passion for Quinn. That he guided a group of teenagers to a championship certainly speaks to that.
Hey, I think it's been great to see some longtime minor-league coaches like Bruce Boudreau and John Anderson get their shot. But I sure hope that a guy like Quinn doesn't get pigeonholed. Just because he has a few miles on the odometer doesn't mean he's ready to be junked. And a guy that has the determination to get back in the saddle by taking a potentially risky job like protecting Canada's world junior stature sure seems like a guy that is ready for another chance.
I hope he gets it.
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