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Road outside Rogers Arena renamed Pat Quinn Way

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- The road fans take to watch the Vancouver Canucks play at Rogers Arena will now be known as Pat Quinn Way.

The City of Vancouver renamed a section of the street adjacent to the arena as Pat Quinn Way in a ceremony before the Canucks played the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

It was a fitting honor, not only because many believe Quinn saved a floundering franchise when he arrived as team president and general manager in 1987, paving the way for Rogers Arena to be built and open in 1995.

It was fitting because the road runs in front of Gate 16, which was named after Trevor Linden, who was Quinn's first draft pick for the Canucks in 1988 and is now the team's president of hockey operations.

Pat Quinn's daughters and granddaughter participate in the ceremonial face-off with Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks before their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 17, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI)

Pat Quinn's family participates in the ceremonial
puck drop with Claude Giroux and Henrik Sedin
before their game at Rogers Arena.
(Click to enlarge)

It was also fitting because it came before a game against the Flyers, the team with which Quinn began his coaching career after 606 NHL games as a rugged defenseman with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canucks and Atlanta Flames.

It was fitting because it came on St. Patrick's Day and the imposing 6-foot-3 Quinn was known to many simply as "The Big Irishman."

"I can't think of a better day to do this," Linden said.

It was also fitting because Pat Quinn Way will always be more than a road.

The Pat Quinn way was a style of building teams as a general manager, and running them as a coach. Perhaps more than that, the Quinn way was about how he dealt with people, whether it was a star player like Pavel Bure, who traveled to Vancouver to be part of the pregame ceremony, or a fan he met in the airport.

"He treated everybody like his next-door neighbor," Calgary Flames president Brian Burke, who started his under Quinn as the Canucks director of hockey operations in 1987, told NHL.com earlier.

The relationships Quinn built were evident as the celebration moved inside Rogers Arena for a 20-minute pregame ceremony at center ice that included friends and family from a life in hockey.

After Canucks players took warm-ups wearing green jerseys with "Quinn" and his No. 3 on the back and three-leaf clovers on the shoulders, former teammates and managers were led to center ice by a pipe band and joined Mark Donnelly in singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" while images of Quinn appeared on the video screens.

"He changed hockey in Vancouver," Linden said.

Quinn's impact reached further than that.

Joining Quinn's wife Sandra, daughters Valeria and Kalli, and granddaughter Kate were special guests from his career, each wearing a jersey from the team he represented with Quinn.

Teammates included original Canucks captain Orland Kurtenbach, Cliff Fletcher from the Atlanta Flames and Rick Lee, who played and coached with Quinn in Toronto.

Philadelphia was represented by executive Bob Clarke, who played for the Quinn-coached Flyers team than set an NHL record with a 35-game unbeaten streak in 1979-80. They were joined by Bob Nicholson, who ran Hockey Canada when Quinn coached his country to a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, ending a 50-year drought.

Vancouver was represented by past captains Stan Smyl and Markus Naslund, as well as three key members of the 1994 team that Quinn coached to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the New York Rangers: Linden, Bure and goalie Kirk McLean.

"He loved this city and he would be humbled by what is happening here tonight," daughter Kalli said during the street renaming ceremony before the game. "He would be humbled and he would say 'it wasn't me that did this, it was all of us that did this.'"

That was the Pat Quinn way.

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