Pat Quinn might not be front and center of the NHL these days, but he’s certainly stayed in the public spotlight.
While the pundits like to speculate endlessly about his suitability for various league coaching positions as they become available, Quinn himself stays plenty busy without worrying too much about the NHL.
In addition to being part-owner of the Vancouver Giants, Quinn helmed the gold medal winning Under-18 Canadian men’s team in Russia this past April, and just last month was awarded the distinguished position as head coach of Canada’s Junior team. Additionally, he also donates time to causes like Making the Connection, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to issues of cardiac health.
Given his busy schedule, I was especially appreciative that Mr. Quinn took a few minutes to answer some questions.
On the World Junior Championships
Alanah: How does coaching kids of this age compare to coaching at the NHL level?
Pat Quinn: Whether players are 5 or 50 they want to feel they are a part of something.
The similarities stem from motivation. At the NHL level, in a lot of cases, you’ll be coaching a player who really can’t do any more physically but has a greater maturity and self motivation ability than a younger player. These players that I will be coaching all have ability and will be motivated!
Alanah: What are the differences between your time playing at their age, and what young players experience now, do you think?
Pat Quinn: That is a great question. The obvious thing on the outside is equipment. Man, the technological advances, like in anything, have been huge in hockey.
From a mental standpoint, for a lot of these boys hockey has pretty much been their concentration and I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing.
When I was a kid growing up in Hamilton we played everything. If there was a sport we liked or excelled at then maybe that was our path, for me that was hockey but I loved and played pretty much any sport. The other thing is that now there is a lot more pressure to succeed from a young age. The rewards are greater but it can be a blow to a young man or young woman often if they don’t reach the highest high of their sport.
On the NHL
Alanah: At this time (pre-season) do you have any observations to make about the Canadian NHL teams? Who’s in good shape and who might be in trouble?
Pat Quinn: I think the Leafs are on the right track. I actually hired Ronny Wilson in Vancouver and he’s a good coach that will move the Leafs in the right direction. Cliff is a very good, very experienced hockey man who will make tough decisions to make a franchise better. The health of the game in our country right now is very good and we’ll have a few teams there at the end.
Montreal and Ottawa will be very tough.
On Making The Connection
Alanah: Can you tell me a bit about your own experiences with heart issues and why you felt it was important to get involved with this program?
Pat Quinn: I thought I was invincible, that I could eat and drink and take in calories the same way after I finished playing. In 2002 I really think that the Leaf team had a chance to win a cup and my problems with my heart, I had an irregular heartbeat brought on by a lot of things, were a distraction because I just wasn’t taking care of myself. People need to start taking care of their hearts now! Making the Connection can be the first step for a lot of people to begin taking better care of their hearts. Then it’s simple things like lifestyle and being aware.
After that scare I quit smoking cigars, really began to watch my weight and walked everyday which is something I continue to do now. I also got regular checks on my cholesterol levels and now that is something I watch very carefully.
I feel better!
My sincere appreciation to Pat Quinn for taking the time to respond to my questions. If you wish to support a cause close to his heart these days (no pun intended!) go to Making the Connection and find out about winning some great prizes.