The head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs has guided Canada's teams to Olympic and World Cup glory, but an NHL championship continues to elude the dean of big-league coaches. He'll probably keep coaching until he gets it.
"My personal drive, what keeps me going, is to try and help a team win the Stanley Cup,'' says the 62-year-old native of Hamilton.
|(D. Sandford, Getty Images/NHLI) |
Quinn has coached more games than any current NHL head coach _ 1,236 _ and on the all-time list trails only Scotty Bowman (2,141), Al Arbour (1,606) and Dick Irvin (1,449). Only Bowman (1,244), Arbour (781) and Irvin (692) won more games than has Quinn (616).
Second in seniority in terms of games coached entering the season is Bryan Murray, the native of Shawville, Que., who is making his Senators debut but who has coached 1,057 NHL games with Washington, Detroit, Florida and Anaheim.
By returning to coaching after serving as Anaheim's GM, Murray supplants Quinn as the oldest NHL coach because he's 55 days Quinn's senior.
Boston's Mike Sullivan, 38, is the youngest head coach.
Of the 30 head coaches who will be behind benches for season openers on Wednesday night, 26 are Canadian and four are American, and 19 of them are former NHL players.
Quinn relishes the annual challenge of guiding a team through 82 games and into the playoffs and, along the way, he says his greatest satisfaction comes from seeing players develop.
"The biggest thrill for me is to watch young guys get better and start to achieve what they're capable of,'' says Quinn. "It's a lot like being a teacher, when you see young students start to blossom, that is the real thrill I get in the job.''
"Clearly, I've had a wonderful trip in this business,'' says Quinn. "I've been fortunate to have been involved with a lot of great players and great teams.
"You re-establish your goal each year, and it's a new slate every year.''
Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, who has coached the Sabres since July 21, 1997, has the longest current tenure with any team. Next is Barry Trotz, who was hired by Nashville on Aug. 6, 1997. Quinn was named coach of the Leafs on June 26, 1998.
Returning to head coaching posts after holding similar positions elsewhere are Joel Quenneville (Colorado via St. Louis), Mike Babcock (Detroit via Anaheim) and Jacques Martin (Florida via St. Louis and Ottawa).
Larry Robinson returns as head coach in New Jersey following the resignation of Pat Burns, who is battling cancer.
To coach their first regular-season NHL games Wednesday are all-time scoring leader Wayne Gretzky (Phoenix) and former defencemen Randy Carlyle (Anaheim) and Trent Yawney (Chicago).
Some head coaches won't last the season, which is par for the course.
Bad teams often change coaches in midstream so Tom Renney (Rangers) and Glen Hanlon (Capitals) shouldn't be taking out any long-term leases.
Mike Kitchen (St. Louis), Steve Sterling (Islanders) and Gerrard Gallant (Columbus) will see their job security vanish if their teams fall flat.
Calgary's Darryl Sutter will be the only man holding down dual GM-coach portfolios this season.
Quinn used to do both jobs in Toronto but coaching has always been his preference. The former defenceman prefers to be close to the action.
He's has made it to the Stanley Cup final twice. Arbour's New York Islanders prevailed over Quinn's Philadelphia Flyers in six games in 1980, and the New York Rangers, coached by Mike Keenan, edged Quinn's Vancouver Canucks in a seven-game final in 1994.
Quinn, who also coached the Los Angeles Kings in the 1980s, is beginning his seventh season with the Leafs. The farthest he's taken them in the playoffs is two conference finals, losing in 1999 to Buffalo and in 2002 to Carolina.
There are at least four management changes since the last time an NHL puck dropped: Brian Burke, the former Canucks GM, takes over as GM of the Mighty Ducks; Dave Nonis, who succeeded Burke, will watch his first regular-season game as Canucks GM; Dale Tallon, moving up from the assistant's job, is the new GM of the Blackhawks; and Keenan, named GM in Florida in May 2004, finally gets to preside over his first regular-season game in that role with the Panthers on Wednesday, too.