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Legendary NHL, international coach Quinn dies at 71

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Pat Quinn, a former NHL coach, player and executive, died Sunday in Vancouver after a lengthy illness. He was 71.

Quinn coached for five NHL teams from 1979 to 2010, reaching the Stanley Cup Final twice and becoming one of four men to win the Jack Adams Award as the League's best coach with at least two different franchises.

"Whether he was playing for a team, coaching a team or building one, Pat Quinn was thoughtful, passionate and committed to success," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. Pat’s contributions to hockey, at every level, reflected the skills he possessed and the great respect with which he treated the sport. The National Hockey League, one of the many organizations to benefit from his devoted service, sends heartfelt condolences to Pat’s loved ones and his many friends around the hockey world."

Internationally, Quinn had an even bigger impact as a coach, leading Canada to several gold medals. None, however, was as important or celebrated as the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics gold medal, which ended Canada's 50-year drought. Quinn also won a gold medal at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

"Pat Quinn, when I was Olympic coach in 2010, was great assistance to me, great man, unbelievable presence," said Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who coached Canada to gold in the tournament in Vancouver. "Intelligent, intelligent guy. Great at handling the media in Toronto, maybe the last guy who was able to do that. Spent his whole life in the game."

Quinn, born in Hamilton, Ontario, played 606 NHL games as a defenseman, starting his playing career during the 1968-69 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Two years later, he joined the Vancouver Canucks and spent two seasons there before finishing his career with a five-year stint with the Atlanta Flames. He scored 18 goals and 113 assists, and had 950 penalty minutes in his career.

Quinn moved into coaching almost immediately, joining the Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant in 1977. The next season, he was a midseason replacement and took the Flyers to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 1979-80, the Flyers amassed 116 points to win the Patrick Division and reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the New York Islanders. Quinn won his first Jack Adams Award for his performance that season.

After the 1981-82 season, Quinn was fired by the Flyers and joined the Los Angeles Kings two years later. He resigned after two-plus seasons, only managing to get the Kings into the playoffs during his first season there.

Three years later, Quinn joined the Canucks as president and general manager; he added the job of coach in 1991. In four seasons, he took a team that struggled to get out of the cellar in the Smythe Division to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994. In an unforgettable series, the Canucks dropped Game 7 to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden; it was the Rangers' first championship in 54 years.

In 1998-99, Quinn took over the Maple Leafs, serving as coach and general manager. His team finished second in the Northeast Division and reached the Eastern Conference Final. He earned his second Jack Adams Award that season. He led Toronto to the postseason in each of his first six seasons with the Maple Leafs. Toronto missed the playoffs in 2005-06 and Quinn was fired.

"This is a tremendous loss for the hockey community," Maple Leafs president and alternate governor Brendan Shanahan said. "Pat will be revered not only for his great accomplishments in sport but also for his courage and strength in face of his illness, and his dedication to family."

In 2009-10, Quinn served as coach of the Edmonton Oilers, but the team struggled and finished in last place. He was replaced at the end of the season.

He coached 1,400 NHL games in his career, winning 684 and finishing with a .556 points percentage. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he was 94-89 in 15 appearances.

"His whole life was his family and hockey," said Ron Hextall, the general manager for the Philadelphia Flyers. "I can tell you in the hockey circles he was one of the most respected guys around. I don't think anybody disliked him and I don't think anybody didn't respect the fact that he was kind of all-in with the game."

Quinn was also active in junior hockey. As a player, he won the Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 1963. Forty-four years later, he won it as a part-owner of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.

"Words cannot express the pain we all feel today for the Quinn family," said Giants majority owner Ron Toigo. "Pat was an inspiration to all of us. He always said that respect was something that should be earned, not given, and the respect that he garnered throughout the hockey world speaks for itself. He will be sorely missed."

Most recently, Quinn was very active with the Hockey Hall of Fame, playing a key role on the Selection Committee. In 2013, he became Chairman of the Board.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat Quinn", said Jim Gregory, vice chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame. "Pat is one of hockey's most respected individuals whose lifetime involvement as a player, coach and executive has made an indelible mark on the game, and our thoughts and prayers are with [his wife] Sandra and all of Pat's family and friends at this extremely difficult time."

Quinn was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012.

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