Pat Quinn was in Winnipeg yesterday to share his vast knowledge with local coaches.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs boss delivered a 60-minute presentation at Coaching Manitoba's annual Super Seminar for Coaches at Maples Collegiate, and he got his point across, often in a humorous manner.
Even though he wasn't with the Vancouver Canucks at the time, Quinn told the story of how Jack McIlhargey and Harold Snepsts came up with a brilliant plan to contain New York Rangers sniper Phil Esposito in the late 1970s.
It went like this: If McIlhargey wanted Snepsts to cover Esposito in the slot, he'd yell out the name of a fruit. If McIlhargey was going to take Esposito himself, he'd yell out a colour.
Sure enough, they found themselves on the ice at the same time as Esposito and had to act, so McIlhargey yelled out "Orange!"
That, folks, illustrates the importance of communication, just one of the many topics Quinn covered yesterday for the appreciative crowd of mentors.
Quinn also answered questions following his address, and he was asked what he thought of today's NHL. Never one to mince words during his coaching days, the 64-year-old was blunt in his assessment.
"In the '90s the league kept saying, 'We're going to go to skill. We're going to go to skill.' I would always try to put the skill team together, and then we'd get down toward the playoffs and it was back into the dungeon again," Quinn said. "It eliminated the skill. So now they're really making an effort at it. I like the fact that there's ice. I don't like a lot of the penalties.
"... What bothers me right now is 28 teams are playing kind of a trap all the time. One goal, everybody's back. I went to the opening game of the Canucks this year. San Jose came out, they scored early and went to the trap. Thank God I didn't pay for it."
Quinn, who also guided Canada's men's hockey team to Olympic gold in 2002, said he doesn't pay much attention to the Leafs anymore, but he still has a soft spot for some of their players.
"I know some of the kids that I had there, and I'm cheering hard for them, because I had a lot of nice young men to work with there," Quinn said. "I'd like to see them do well, but I must profess: I watch them on TV a little bit, but that's about all."
Quinn has been asked to help get Ireland's hockey program off the ground, but what he really wants is another job in the NHL, where he has amassed 657 career victories as a bench boss.
"I'd love to have another kick," he said. "I still am enthused about the game, and I still feel like I can help somebody do some good things."