Canucks alumni pay tribute to Quinn


Dr. Sport: Friends swap tales about the Big Irishman

The Vancouver Canucks will honour the late Pat Quinn March 17.

The Vancouver Canucks will honour the late Pat Quinn March 17.

Photograph by: Ralph Bower, VANCOUVER SUN

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VANCOUVER — Nobody said it, but each time the door swung open Monday night every guy in the room was silently hoping the Big Irishman would walk through it, larger than life.

That was always the way with Pat Quinn. Heads would turn and conversations would stop when he arrived on the scene.

In a private farewell to their friend, mentor and motivator, the Canucks Alumni assembled in a downtown Donnelly Group bar to share memories of happier times during Quinn’s playing, coaching and executive days in Vancouver that went as far back as the NHL expansion draft in 1970.

Alumni president Gerry Sillers organized the get-together and shared the microphone with former players Orland Kurtenbach, Jack McIlhargey, Harold Snepsts, Garry Valk and Kirk McLean.

Valk related the story about confronting his coach one day after practice, bravely demanding to know why he was stuck on the fourth line. “Without missing a beat,” Valk said, “Pat told me it was because he didn’t have a fifth line.”

Quinn died on Nov. 23 last year after a lengthy illness at the age of 71. The Canucks announced Thursday that a celebration of Quinn’s life will take place — fittingly — on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, when the Philadelphia Flyers are at Rogers Arena.

Once again, the Big Irishman’s presence will be felt, larger than life.

HERE ‘N’ THERE: Former goaltender Charlie Hodge played for both the Western Hockey League and NHL Canucks, and at 81 he never misses scouting a Vancouver Giants game at the Pacific Coliseum. As can be the habit with a lot of ex-goalies, Charlie is superstitious and worries about little things, such as the Giants selling out and having to give up his regular seat. Giants owner Ron Toigo put Charlie’s mind at ease by surprising him at a game last week with an engraved plaque on Seat 8, Row 1 in Section 4 that reads: “Reserved for Charlie Hodge, Canucks Alumni and NHL Scout.”

SHORT HOPS: Jim Robson tried to keep his 80th birthday (today) as quiet as possible, but David Pratt of TSN 1040 played the “neighbour card” and talked his fellow False Creek condo dweller into making a guest appearance on the Bro Jake morning show. Reminiscing about his brilliant play-by-play career, Robson was, uh, brilliant. What he didn’t share was that at a family birthday party earlier in the week, organized by wife Bea, he was surprised with a gift in the form of an eight-foot inflatable boat and six-horsepower outboard. The boat is named “Leaky B” and he’s been admiring it all week in the False Creek marina from the deck of his condo.

END ZONE: Sue Griffin, the first female president and CEO of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, left after seven years to become executive director at Tennis BC. She departed from the tennis set in December to open her own consulting firm ( that deals with helping to market amateur and non-profit sports organizations at an executive level.

The Vancouver Canucks will honour the late Pat Quinn March 17.

The Vancouver Canucks will honour the late Pat Quinn March 17.

Photograph by: Ralph Bower, VANCOUVER SUN

The Vancouver Canucks will honour the late Pat Quinn March 17.
Vancouver Canucks general manager and coach Pat Quinn voices his displeasure at on-ice happenings during first period NHL action in Vancouver in a 1996 National Hockey League game. In the forground are players Russ Courtnall (left) and Markus Naslund (right).
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