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Canucks remember Quinn with video, 'Danny Boy'

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks celebrated the life and legacy of former coach, general manager and president Pat Quinn with a moment of silence and singing of "Danny Boy" prior to playing the New Jersey Devils at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.

Quinn died at age 71 Sunday after a lengthy illness.

The Canucks will wear decals on their helmets with the initials "PQ" inside a four-leaf clover for the rest of the season, a fitting nod to a man known to many as "The Big Irishman," and there are plans to honor Quinn with a larger ceremony at a game later in the season.

After an emotional two days, singer Mark Donnelly hit all the right notes as a video tribute played on the scoreboard and the spotlight shone on Quinn's image in his spot in the Canucks' Ring of Honor.

Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins, who was an assistant to Quinn when he coached Canada to a gold medal at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, said the biggest honor to Quinn will be how the Canucks play the rest of the season.

"For us and for me, I think our tribute for him would be to play hockey that Pat Quinn would say at the end of the day, 'I like how that team plays,' and that's kind of how I am approaching the year," Desjardins said after the morning skate Tuesday. "I'd like if at the end of the year Patty would say, 'You guys played hard.'"

Born in the steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, Quinn didn't know any other way. He played 606 NHL games as a rugged defenseman with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canucks and Atlanta Flames before going on to coach five NHL teams from 1979 to 2010. He reached the Stanley Cup Final twice and is one of four men to win the Jack Adams Award as the League's best coach with at least two different franchises.

Tributes poured in from around the hockey world Monday, but nowhere was his impact and loss felt more than in Vancouver, where he was credited with saving the Canucks.

Quinn started his coaching career with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1977 and worked for the Los Angeles Kings before joining the Canucks as president and general manager in 1987. He added the job of coach in 1991 and guided the Canucks to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, where they lost to the New York Rangers.

Quinn's legacy lives on in Vancouver in more than wins. It continues in the way the Canucks have always stressed community work.

"He's left such a great tradition with this team and believe totally that the way we act in the community is a real reflection of Pat Quinn and Trevor Linden," Desjardins said. "This is a special team for that."

It lives on through NHL executives who got their start with Quinn in Vancouver, including Calgary Flames president Brian Burke and Trevor Linden, who Quinn drafted with his first pick in 1988.

Linden consulted Quinn before returning to the Canucks as president of hockey operations last season, and has talked since his passing about Quinn's legacy continuing in the way the Canucks play under Desjardins, rolling four lines and ensuring every player has a role to fill and feels important about it.

Perhaps most of all, Quinn will be remembered for his presence and how well he treated people.

"Larger than life is a term people are using and that's appropriate," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I was a young guy in the organization here and I remember one of the reasons I ended up going to law school was Pat Quinn. At the time this was one of the few teams that reimbursed you for education expenses in the summer when you were playing, so he promoted. I remember looking at him and Brian Burke as two guys that played and went on to get their law degrees and it pushed me in that direction."

As "Danny Boy" wound down, the video showed Quinn celebrating after coaching Canada to a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, which ended Canada's 50-year drought, and a shot of him being named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012.

"He was a great man, larger than life," DeBoer said. "In the hockey world you run into so many people. He's one that's unforgettable."

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