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“Each team has been hoping like hell we’ll get by the previous one so that they can be the club to beat us, and we’ve brought out the best in all of them,” said Pat Quinn back in October of 1979.
Quinn, the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers at the time, just watched his team lose its first game during an unprecedented 35-game unbeaten streak. “The Streak,” as it is known, was simply one of many historic feats in Quinn’s legendary hockey career, that including a redefining of the Flyers from the (still somewhat) unshakable Bullies perception to a team packed with skill and potential.
That season, he coached the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals, where the team took the New York Islanders to six games before losing the Cup. When the season was over, Quinn was honored with the Jack Adams Award. He was one of three Flyers’ coaches to win the award.
Fred Shero was the first winner of the trophy, a mere six years before Quinn. Prior to taking over behind the bench, Quinn served as an assistant coach under Shero.
When Quinn interviewed to take the position vacated by Shero — a job he would lose to Bob McCammon — he was asked to explain his plans to general manager, Keith Allen, who died earlier this year. He said that he wanted to name Bobby Clarke, who was still an active player, an assistant coach. When Quinn eventually replaced McCammon, he put his plan into action and began the segue of Clarke’s productive career on the ice to one off the ice as well.
“It’s a horrible day for all of us,” said Clarke, on the news of Quinn’s passing. “This really caught me off guard because I loved Pat. It’s a real loss to the hockey community. We lost a real good one.”
Quinn, known as The Big Irishman, passed away today after battling a long respiratory illness. He was 71-year old.