Friday, July 2, 2010

Dan Quinn

As Hockey Night In Canada color man Harry Neale would say, Dan Quinn had all the tools to be a NHL superstar, but he didn't have the toolbox.

Quinn owned an arsenal of talents - from quick hands to quicker feet, from a good shot to great vision. However he also had a habit of wearing out his welcome sooner rather than later.

Quinn was selected 13th overall in the 1983 Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. Scouts drooled over the possibilities of Quinn's talent but questioned his work ethic. He came off of a 59 goal, 147 point season with the OHL's Belleville Bulls. The potential reward was too tempting.

He was returned to junior in the 1983-84 season - but not for long. After 24 games in which Quinn scored 23 times and assisted on 36 others, the Flames recalled the slick center. He finished the season strongly with the Flames. In 54 games he scored 19 goals and 52 points.

Quinn enjoyed three seasons in Calgary, showing some solid statistical improvements in each season despite playing on a superpower Flames team that was stocked with veterans. By his third year in the league he scored 30 goals and 72 points.

The Flames moved Quinn to Pittsburgh in November of 1986 and got veteran sniper Mike Bullard in return. The move was done on Calgary's part in order to upgrade their immediate chances of winning a championship. Meanwhile in Pittsburgh Quinn was the number 2 center on a team which of course featured the great Mario Lemieux. Quinn put up some good numbers in his stay in the Steel City, even though he rarely played with Mario except on the power plays. In 1987-88 he scored 40 goals including 21 on the power play. In 1988-89 he scored a career high 94 points including 34 goals.

Quinn and the Pens got off to a terrible 1989-90 season. Quinn, who was very popular among his teammates wherever he went, was a defensive liability and had a poor work ethic - something that the Pens were trying to eliminate from their game. They traded him halfway through the season along with Dave Capuano and Andrew McBain to Vancouver for Rod Buskas, Barry Pederson and Tony Tanti.

Quinn immediately inherited Pederson's role as the #1 center in Vancouver. There were high hopes on the west coast that Quinn could add some offensive punch to the anemic Canucks attack, but he didn't add too much in his stay. He scored 34 goals and 83 points in 101 games in parts of 2 seasons with the Canucks. However Quinn's happy-go-lucky attitude off the ice and his less-than-acceptable commitment on the ice concerned the Canucks brass as he and super rookie Trevor Linden were becoming close friends. Linden's game of course was the complete opposite - a hard working, body banging star - and the Canucks didn't want Quinn's attitude rubbing off on their future captain.

Quinn was traded in one of the greatest trades in Vancouver Canuck history. He, along with long time banging blueliner Garth Butcher were moved to St. Louis in exchange for Geoff Courtnall, Robert Dirk, Cliff Ronning, Sergio Momesso and a draft pick. The 4 players coming to Vancouver all went on to do some fine things in a Canuck uniform. The Blues were happy to get the aggressive Butcher, but rumour had it they reluctantly agreed to take Quinn to complete the deal to get Butcher.

Quinn finished the season and playoffs in St. Louis but was moved in 1991 in a trade that the Blues would live to regret. Quinn accompanied a young kid named Rod Brind'Amour to Philadelphia in exchange for Ron Sutter and Murray Baron.

Quinn racked up lots of travel miles over the next 6 years. He played one year in Philly before signing as a free agent with Minnesota. After one year there he went to Switzerland as no team showed interest him.

The reason every team suddenly dropped interest in him was due to an incicdent that tainted his reputation forever on November 10th, 1992. On that night he got together with some former Pittsburgh teammates, namely Mario Lemieux, Rick Tocchet and Bob Errey. They met four young women at a Hooters restaurant and went back to the Penguins hotel. It was in another player's hotel room that Quinn would be accused of raping a 19 year old girl. Charges of sexual assault were neer formally issued and eventually the case was dropped altogether as it was determined the activity was indeed consensual. But the short time in jail, the $30,000 bail, and the countless time his name was dragged through the mud in newspapers and tv news casts was enough to ruin Quinn. The North Stars dumped him, citing curfew violations, and it would be a while before he returned to the NHL scene.

Finally his hometown Ottawa Senators gave him a chance late in the year. He scored 7 goals in 13 games. Quinn was able to parlay his performance in the Canadian capital to another 1 year contract, this time with Los Angeles. He'd return to Ottawa in 1995-96 after starting the year in the IHL with the Detroit Vipers. He finished the season (take a deep breath!) in Philadelphia. He finished his career by playing 16 games with the Penguins in 1996-97.

Dan Quinn had some breath taking talents. He also moved around the league so much it takes a lot of deep breaths just to follow his travels!

Despite his reputation for questionable commitment as far as NHL coaches are concerned, Quinn's reputation as a talent earned him the chance to play in 805 NHL games. He scored 265 goals and 419 assists for 685 points. He added another 22 goals and 48 points in 65 playoff contests. He had some real nice skills and if he had the right coach to motivate him maybe he could have taken his game to the next level.

Dan is a scratch golfer and can often be seen in those celebrity golf championships. In fact he won the 1992 and 2001 Celebrity Golf Championships. He also has developed close relationships with PGA tour greats, serving as Enrie Els caddie at the 2010 Masters.

``I've loved golf since I was 12 years old,'' Quinn said. ``It's just a weird sport. It challenges every emotion you can experience throughout the day. You have to get breaks ... There are so many intangibles and that's what's addicting.''

Quinn, who lists both Bobby Orr and Jack Nicklaus as his equal sporting idols, has won over $600,000 on the Celebrity Players Tour. Other hockey celebrities on the tour have included Mike Eurzione, Pierre Larouche, Brett Hull, Mario Lemieux , Stan Mikita, Bernie Nicholls, Jeremy Roenick, Brendan Shanahan, Greg Stefan, Dale Tallon and Ed Westfall. Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Joe Thiesman, Dan Marino, Jerry Rice, Ivan Lendl, John Elway and former USA Vice President Dan Quayle have also appeared on the tour at various times.

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