Veteran coach Pat Quinn dreams of a return behind an NHL bench and it likely wouldn’t take a lot of convincing to get him to accept the job in Montreal, even if the former Toronto coach doubts the Habs would want to hire a “big Irishman."
Quinn, who has coached in the league for three decades, was in Montreal this week to impart some hockey wisdom on a group of 12-year-old Peewee B players from the St. Catherine Coyotes.
A visit from Quinn was the grand prize following a contest promoting cardiovascular health.
“It was fun,” said Quinn. “I’ve never coached players that young. They’re the same age as my grandson.”
Fire still burns
Despite his 66 well-lived years, Quinn’s desire to coach an NHL team remains strong.
Though he was at the helm of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa this January, Quinn is still looking to put his skills to good use at the professional level. He was fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006.
“I’ve had a good career,” he said. “But when Toronto decided to make changes, I realized quickly that I missed (coaching).”
Not too old
“I wasn’t ready to retire completely,” he said. “In fact, I miss it every day. I certainly don’t feel too old to be behind the bench. I would really like to have one more chance to coach an NHL team.”
When it was suggested that there might be a coaching vacancy in Montreal next year, Quinn cracked a small smile.
“Montreal is a great hockey town,” he said. “The Canadiens are a big organization with a rich history.
“But I tried out my French with the kids (this week) and they told me it wasn’t very good,” Quinn added, though he refused to weigh in on the debate of whether or not the next coach in Montreal needs to be fluent in French.
“I just think the Canadiens should hire whoever would make the best coach for the organization,” he said. “And that’s up to (Canadiens general manager) Bob Gainey to decide.”
A Habs tattoo?
Quinn joked about the appeal of the Canadiens organization to anyone involved in hockey.
“I was part of the organization as a player for a year (though he never played for them). I still have my Canadiens tattoo,” he joked as he pretended to lift his shirt.
“It would be incredible,” admitted Quinn. “But I can’t imagine they’d pick a big Irishman like me.”
But, if he ever gets the phone call…?
“You can be sure I’d answer it,” he said.