TORONTO — Pat Quinn was long a mainstay at Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend as chairman. Some in hockey believe he should be a mainstay in the Hall of Fame itself.
Less than three months after his death at the age of 71, Quinn on Tuesday was chosen as part of the 2015 class of the Order of Hockey in Canada. That honour sparked conversation about whether Quinn should some day have his face among the honoured members in the Great Hall.
“I think he should be in the Hall of Fame,” Hockey Canada president and CEO Tom Renney said. “He gets us a gold medal in the Olympic games, he wins a gold medal with the world junior team. He puts all kinds of people in a safe place in the NHL and made stars out of a number of others as a coach, never mind as an administrator.”
Quinn never won the Stanley Cup but put together a strong resume as a coach, general manager and front-office executive.
He coached Canada to gold at the 1986 world championship, 2002 Olympics and 2009 world junior championship and titles at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and 2006 Spengler Cup. In the NHL, he led two teams to the Cup final (1979-80 Flyers and 1993-94 Canucks) and is fifth all-time in victories with 684.
Quinn’s daughter Kalli said she and other family members encouraged him to coach that 2009 Canadian world junior team when he asked. He didn’t regret that experience.
“He talks fondly about that,” Kalli Quinn said on a conference call. “He loved being around the kids. He indicated that he learned as much from those young men hopefully that they learned from him.”
Quinn’s fellow honourees for the Order of Hockey in Canada weren’t able to speak about his Hall of Fame candidacy. Jim Gregory and Serge Savard are Hall of Famers already and have been on the selection committee.
Savard is no longer on that committee, and while Gregory was a longtime chairman he is now in a non-voting role.
“The people who are on the committee are asked to sign an affidavit that they won’t talk about the candidates or the failures because it’s embarrassing to some people,” Gregory said.
“I can tell you that in my association with the Hall of Fame, the people who are on there doing the voting are doing everything they possibly can do make the right selections and to do the right thing. Certainly Mr. Quinn’s record speaks for itself and it would be up to the people who are on the committee to make that decision.”
Savard, a member of the 1972 Summit Series team and an 10-time Stanley Cup winner with the Montreal Canadians (eight as a player, two as a general manager), said in the past it was “very, very difficult” for anyone to be elected in the builder category, which is where Quinn would fit.
Renney, who worked under Quinn in Vancouver, had no trouble voicing his support. He doesn’t have a vote but is hoping Quinn gets in.
“Maybe it’s only a matter of time,” Renney said. “I’d like to think that. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”