Sports teams like to run with trends and – sometimes, just sometimes – can be accused of copycatting successful outfits.
In the NHL, the hot trend in coaching is to latch onto the most successful up-and-comers in the AHL and junior ranks. Just look at some of the most successful, hype-soaked teams in the league; such success stories can be found in the form of Stanley Cup winner Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh, Presidents Trophy winner Bruce Boudreau in Washington, hot coach of the moment Guy Boucher in Tampa Bay and a few other spots around the league.
It would make me pine for the olden days of hiring retreads such as “Iron” Mike Keenan, but for the most part, the Bouchers of the world are acquitting themselves pretty well.
Then again, it’s easy to look like a brilliant man in a suit when you have Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin or Steve Stamkos scoring goals left and right. That’s a luxury anti-flavor of the month Pat Quinn did not enjoy when he was a coach for the Edmonton Oilers last season, his last opportunity to be a bench boss.
While that Oilers season was more or less a disaster, it’s difficult to pin the blame on Quinn. Either way, the 66-year-old veteran coach wants another crack at coaching in the NHL, as he told the Associated Press.
Quinn is a true hockey lifer. With more than 600 NHL games as a player and another 1,400 as a head coach, he’s literally spent decades in the dressing room.
Now removed from that setting, he misses the daily interaction with players. But he hasn’t lost hope that the phone might ring with another coaching opportunity.
“It’s been my life,” said Quinn. “As I’ve said before, there was a big void after I lost my job here in Toronto (in 2006). When you don’t think of it as a job — it’s a way of life — and suddenly it’s gone, (it’s tough). I really miss being involved, I was happy for that opportunity in Edmonton last year.
“Heck, I’m a little bit older but not too old to not want to be involved.”
As you can see from this 2007 article written by James Mirtle, 60+ years old coaches were a rarity three years ago and it’s only gotten worse for elderly bosses since then. Correct me if I’m wrong – because there’s a solid chance I might be – but it looks like the oldest coach in the league might be Jacques Martin in Ottawa. Martin is now 58, so Quinn would enter the league as its oldest coach by about eight years (unless there’s an older coach I’ve overlooked).
In other words, the odds are stacked pretty heavily against Quinn. Yet, considering the fact that he survived multiple decades in the NHL, beating the odds is probably a pretty common task for the potential Hall of Famer.