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The late Pat Quinn honored before Flyers-Canucks game

Quinn, who coached both teams, died last November after a long illness.

Pat Quinn is honored before the start of the first period as the Vancouver Canucks host the Philadelphia Flyers at Rogers Arena. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today)
Pat Quinn is honored before the start of the first period as the Vancouver Canucks host the Philadelphia Flyers at Rogers Arena. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today)Read more

VANCOUVER - Since late November, the Flyers have worn an orange shamrock with the initials "PQ" on the back of their helmets to honor the legacy of former coach Pat Quinn.

It was fitting, then, that the teams with two of Quinn's deepest ties met last night on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate the life of the "Big Irishman."

Quinn, the man who led the Flyers (1980) and the Canucks (1994) to the Stanley Cup finals, passed away on Nov. 23, 2014, at Vancouver General Hospital after a long illness. He was 71.

The Canucks waited until last night's fitting day and opponent to recognize the Quinn family with a pregame ceremony. Outside of Rogers Arena, part of Abbott Street was renamed "Pat Quinn Way."

Flyers president Paul Holmgren and senior vice president Bob Clarke traveled to Vancouver to salute their former coach.

Former Canucks Pavel Bure, Stan Smyl, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden and Kirk McLean, former hockey executive Cliff Fletcher and Edmonton Oilers president Bob Nicholson were on the ice for the ceremony, along with Clarke.

"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling'' was played during a video tribute.

"He was such a great man," said Vinny Lecavalier, who played for Quinn with Hockey Canada. "I had an opportunity to be with him in the World Cup in '04 and the Olympics in '06. He was such a nice man. The first time I met him, it's impressive, you shake his big hands, but he was such a nice man and a great coach. It's great they're doing this.

"He had this way of commanding attention; players listened when he talked. He could take over a room."

With the Flyers, Quinn is best remembered for 1980's 35-game unbeaten streak (25-0-10), which stretched from Oct. 14, 1979 through Jan. 6, 1980. It still stands as a North American professional sports record, a mark previously held by the Los Angeles Lakers (33 games in 1971-72). That 1979-80 season earned him the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL coach of the year, even though the Flyers fell to the Islanders in the finals.

Quinn was fired by the Flyers on March 19, 1982, with eight games to play in the season, and replaced by Bob McCammon. He was 39 at the time. Still under contract, Quinn enrolled in Widener University School of Law, and his juris doctor was funded by the team.

In Vancouver, Quinn both played for and coached the Canucks - also capturing the Jack Adams in 1992. He is third in wins (138) in franchise history. His face and No. 3 hang in the ring of honor around Rogers Arena, with current Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins saying yesterday he looks up to the rafters before every game and recalls Quinn's legacy with fondness.

Quinn finished his career sixth all-time in wins (684-528-188, .556) with a stop in Edmonton in 2009-10. He also coached in Toronto (1998-2006) and Los Angeles (1984-87). He was known for his fiery attitude, engaging stories and love of cigars.

"I knew Pat - not that well, but I've been around Paul Holmgren and Bob Clarke enough to know what kind of man he was and what kind of a hockey man he was," coach Craig Berube said. "He's a loss to not only hockey, but his family. I would say, considering what he's done for this organization, he's one of the best Flyers coaches of all time."