He hadn’t coached since being let go by the Toronto Maple Leafs at the end of last season, but it’s a position Quinn feels extremely comfortable in.
It makes his current situation a little less comfortable. After watching Canada lose 3-2 to host HC Davos in the Spengler final on Sunday, Quinn was again left without coaching work.
He’ll turn 64 later this month but retirement is far from his mind.
“Hockey’s still something that I love and that I’m interested in,” Quinn said from Davos, Switzerland. “I’ll pay close attention and if something comes along that provides an opportunity to be in the game in the future than I’ll certainly have a good look at it.”
Quinn’s love of the game was evident to anyone who spent time around the Canadian team at the Spengler Cup.
Several players noted the calming influence he had on the team, particularly early in the tournament when it got behind in a couple games before coming back to win them.
“When he walks in the room, you just feel his presence (and feel) that it’s business time,” said captain Stacy Roest, a former NHLer with Detroit and Minnesota. “I was very honoured to play for Pat Quinn.
“I think the passion for the game is definitely still with him and it was just a lot of fun playing for him.”
The time spent with his players in the Swiss Alps was just as enjoyable for Quinn – if not more so.
He was at the Spengler Cup for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed his experience at the tournament, where teams play five games in six days.
“It was tense every day,” said Quinn. “All the games were important every day. It was important to see these young men succeed.
“It was a very enjoyable time. It has been a real pleasure. You get pretty close over here because it’s so intense and you’re with everybody every day.”
That sort of all-consuming team atmosphere is difficult to replicate in day-to-day life.
Being part-owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants helps Quinn feed his hockey fix and he watches as many NHL games as he can on television. But there’s nothing quite like being part of a team.
Quinn had discussions with the Boston Bruins over the summer about their coaching vacancy but things didn’t work out there. The fourth winningest NHL coach ever is now pretty much left to wait for the phone to ring.
One potential option would be coaching Team Canada again in April at the IIHF world hockey championship in Moscow. He’s interested in the job, but isn’t optimistic about getting it.
“Unfortunately there’s been no discussion about that,” said Quinn. “I’ve been part of Canada’s program for a long time. If there’s any way I can help them – whether it’s coaching or in any other function or role – I’d be happy to do that.”
Few men have had as much experience with Hockey Canada. Not only did he coach Team Canada to gold at the 2002 Olympic Games and to victory at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, he was also the co-GM for Canada’s 1997 world championship side that captured gold in Helsinki.
Quinn was also GM of the 1998 world championship team and coached Canada to a bronze at the 1986 worlds.
He last coached Team Canada at the Turin Olympics, when the team was surprisingly knocked out in the quarter-finals.
Canada’s run at the Spengler Cup ended in a similar disappointing fashion. The only regret Quinn left Europe with was not guiding his team to the gold.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t help them a bit more,” he said.
The players wished they had come through for Quinn.
“It was kind of unfortunate for him to come back to the game here and have it end like this,” said forward Tyler Wright. “It would have been nice to be able to win for him.”