Maybe Pat Quinn really believes this is the best coaching fit for him, or he figured that at 66 years of age, he couldn't really afford to be that choosy any more.
Regardless, Quinn is back coaching in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, three years after being dumped by the Toronto Maple Leafs and following a successful turn with the Canadian kids at the most recent World Junior Championships. If rumors are to be believed, Quinn had been courted by several teams since then, but for whatever reason kept finding himself on the outside looking in until he accepted a job with a young team that is best known for failing to live up to questionable potential.
The hiring of a veteran like Quinn, whose NHL coaching career began in 1978, to lead a team that hasn't made the playoffs since getting to the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals goes against a recent league trend among teams that have tended to opt for fresher faces, either from their own farm systems or the junior ranks. But Quinn's gold medal win at the WJC obviously went a long way toward showing NHL types that an older guy can still work with kids who dominate the league these days and was an important part of his rehabilitation if you will, although Quinn's long standing relationship with Oilers GM Steve Tambellini certainly didn't hurt.
"If I think of leadership, I think of Pat," said Tambellini, who was part of the brain trust for Canada's 2002 Olympic gold medal team at Salt Lake coached by Quinn. "If I think of how you want to be treated as a player, I think of Pat Quinn. As someone who sets an example morally for an organization, I think of Pat Quinn. I'm very happy he accepted the job."
Edmonton actually took its contrarian approach a little further by naming recently fired Rangers coach Tom Renney as an associate coach, while retaining assistant Kelly Buchberger, the only holdover from the previous Craig MacTavish regime. Renney's addition is interesting not only because he would have presumably been a candidate for one of several head coaching jobs that are now available, but more because of his strong relationship with Jaromir Jagr during their time together in New York.
Jagr played in Russia last season, but has said that if would return to the NHL, it would only be with the Oilers, who made a very strong pitch to land him last summer. Renney's presence could mean a future in Edmonton for Jagr, if he can escape his Russian contract.
In the meantime, the new Edmonton coaches with their apparent complementary styles -- Quinn is offense oriented while Renney is into strong defensive systems -- will be looking to get more out of a speedy and somewhat skilled young team that has been a disappointment on the ice for the last several seasons. The bright side for them is that the Oilers have no where to go but up.
"We think there's talent here," Quinn said. "We're hopefully here to make the next steps."
The Mighty Quinn
Posted on: May 26, 2009 3:58 pm