VANCOUVER -- When a life-sized bronze statue of Pat Quinn was unveiled by the Vancouver Canucks in front of Rogers Arena 45 minutes before a game against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, daughter Kalli Quinn wasn't sure what to expect.
Judging by her reaction a few minutes later, the tribute captured the late Canucks player, coach, general manager and president perfectly.
"The first thing I did was look at the smile and I just, he had an incredible smile so it's everything I wanted it to be," Kalli Quinn said, her voice cracking with emotion. "It's overwhelming. It is a bit strange because I just want to reach out and touch him."
On a cold, wet night, fans lined up 15 to 20 deep in spots around the tribute to Quinn, who died at the age of 71 on Nov. 23, 2014. It features Quinn standing behind a bench, his left hand holding a lineup card of the 1994 Canucks team that made it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and his right hand reaching out and inviting fans to sit for a picture.
Dubbed "Pat's bench" by a small group of family, friends and colleagues that commissioned the statue as part of a larger legacy project honoring Quinn's impact on hockey, the idea came from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, where Quinn coached Canada to its first gold medal in 50 years. Away from the spotlight of the rink, Quinn would sit on the same bench outside of Canada House and athletes from all sports would stop to chat.
"That's why the people of Vancouver loved Pat Quinn," Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden said. "He made people feel special, whether you were a first-line center or a fourth-line right winger, he had a way of getting the most out of people."
Linden was joined by more than half a dozen former Canucks players to help with the unveiling, including Jyrki Lumme and Dave Babych, whose names are also on the lineup card.
"Seeing that lineup card in his hands when he came into the dressing room every night with a lineup card and those big cowboy boots, let me tell you, he had everyone's attention," Linden said. "It's where Pat loved to be. He loved to be behind a bench. You could see it. He loved to teach, he loved the game, he loved to be as close to the game as he could."
Quinn was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2016. He played 606 NHL games as a defenseman then coached 1,400 more over 20 seasons. He won 684 games, eighth most in NHL history, the Jack Adams Award twice as the League's top coach (1980, 1992) and was Canucks coach, president and GM at various points from 1987 to 1997.
Quinn's legacy went beyond wins and losses. It could be seen in the players and people he inspired and mentored on and off the ice who returned for the statue unveiling, including Linden and Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke.
"My father loved them like sons and all he wanted was to succeed and it didn't matter where it was, on or off the ice, and for them to take the time to be here and recognize him in this way, it's special for the family," Kalli Quinn said. "Every honor he has received is special in its own way and he is going to be remembered forever everywhere but this is something life-sized and tangible that people can come and experience. It's so amazing and so wonderful and I don't even have the words for it."