March 17, 2010
History runs deep
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
Some historical tidbits about St. Patrick's Day, Toronto and the Maple Leafs:
Pat Quinn: "I don't get as carried away as I used to," the former coach and player said, "though I did wear an all-green suit and plus-fours one year with the Leafs."
Quinn's grandfather was a merchant who lived and worked around County Down and County Armagh in Northern Ireland, south of Belfast. He brought his family to Liverpool during harsh economic times and then to Hamilton around 1908. Coincidentally, Quinn's mother's maiden name was Ireland, though there was no Irish blood on her side.
Quinn went into the heart of Irish Boston one memorable night in 1969, flattened the great Bobby Orr and got out alive. Talk about luck of the Irish.
Pat Burns: The ex-coach's grandfather, Percival, came from Carrickfergus, a coastal town in Antrim, celebrated in a Van Morrison song.
"It's a special day and I always wear a green tie or something," Burns said.
Brian Burke: "My Mom's family is from (County) Roscommon, my Dad's from Mayo," the general manager, said who was born in Rhode Island. "My great-grandfather stepped off the boat and enlisted in the Union Army."
Jim Graves (manager of Rockies sports bar, Belfast, former manager of Irish national hockey team): "When you mention the Leafs here, people can readily identify that as one of Canada's top hockey clubs. With the introduction of Ireland's first fully pro team, the Belfast Giants 10 years ago, Irish fans have grown into experts. Many have families living in Ontario and particularly Toronto of which they have enjoyed watching the Leafs on their visits. Wade Belak's jersey hangs proudly behind the bar as a reminder to all the guests of the long and colourful history of the club."
Brendan Shanahan: Born in Mimico, and a graduate of the Mississauga and Dixie programs, the recently retired Shanny has been marshall of the St. Patrick's Day parade in Toronto and has spoken of one day working with the Irish national team.
Owen Nolan: Belfast native and ex-Leaf, one of six players in NHL history to be born in Ireland or Northern Ireland (Sid Finney, Bobby Kirk, Jim McFadden, Sammy McManus and Jack Riley).