Lindros and Quinn Selected for Hockey Hall of Fame

 

Two men who were instrumental in shaping different eras of Philadelphia Flyers – late-1970s to early 1980s coach Pat Quinn, selected posthumously, and 1990s superstar center Eric Lindros – were recognized on Monday with the sport’s greatest honor: selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The induction will take place in Toronto on November 14.

 

 

Not including legendary broadcaster Gene Hart, honored with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1997, and prolific Flyers writer Jay Greenberg, chosen for the 2013 Elmer Ferguson award, Lindros and Quinn will be the 17th and 18th men with Flyers’ ties at some point of their careers to be selected for the induction into the Hall. Twelve have been chosen for their playing careers, while six others were selected in the Builders’ category.

 

The players: defenseman Allan Stanley (1981), goaltender Bernie Parent (1984), center Bobby Clarke (1987), center Darryl Sittler (1989), left winger Bill Barber (1990), center/winger Dale Hawerchuk (2001), defenseman Paul Coffey (2004), Mark Howe (2011), Adam Oates (2012), Peter Forsberg (2014), Chris Pronger (2015) and Lindros.

 

The builders: Flyers co-founder and chairman Ed Snider (1988), general manager Bud Poile (1990), coach and general manager Keith Allen (1992), coach Roger Neilson (2001), coach Fred Shero (2013) and coach Quinn (2016). 

 

Several other candidates with strong Flyers ties – right winger Mark Recchi, center Jeremy Roenick and center Rod Brind’Amour – were not selected for Hall of Fame induction this year. All remain candidates for future induction, especially Recchi.

 

“I am extremely excited and happy to hear the news of Eric Lindros getting into the Hall of Fame today.   Eric had a shortened career due to injuries but the impact he had on the game was phenomenal.  We are all still looking for 6-5, 245 lbs. guys who can skate and play a skilled and physical game like Eric could.  This is great news for the Flyers organization and great news for Eric Lindros and his family.  I’m very happy for him,” said Flyers president Paul Holmgren.

 

“Also, I’m very excited to hear the news of Pat Quinn getting in the Builders category.  I’ve known Pat a long time and can’t say enough about Pat, the man, the hockey coach, the hockey person.  I’m happy for his wife Sandra, his daughters Valerie and Kalli to be able to see their father go in.  It’s really exciting to see both of these guys go into the Hall of Fame.”

 

For former Flyers captain Lindros, who was inducted in 2014 as a member of the Flyers Hall of Fame along with longtime linemate John LeClair, his selection marks recognition of just how dominant he could be when healthy enough to play.

 

 “Things are just starting to sink in, and I certainly am honored be part of this class. Congratulations to [fellow selectees] Rogie [Vachon] and Sergei [Makarov] and to Pat Quinn’s family,” Lindros said in a conference call shortly after learning of his selection.

 

“I haven’t stopped smiling since Lanny [McDonald, the Hall of Fame chairman] gave a phone call to let know that things are the way they are.”

 

At the peak of his powers, the NHL had never seen anything quite like the package of brute force and skillful finesse that Eric Lindros brought: he could steamroll an opponent or score one-handed goals while fending off defenders or else stickhandle slickly around an opponent and either bury a shot or feather a pass to an open teammate.

 

Flyers legend Clarke, a member of the Hall of Fame selection committee and longtime general manager after his own storied playing career, has said for years that Lindros deserved Hall of Fame induction despite injuries and differences with management in the latter portion of his Philadelphia tenure.

 

“To have Bob’s support, like so many, I have to thank them,” Lindros said.

 

Even with a series of early-career knee injuries to both knees and a later series of concussions that ultimately curtailed his career, Lindros skated well for such a big man in addition to being almost freakishly strong physically. He also had a considerable mean streak.

 

At the point Lindros was traded from the Flyers to the New York Rangers in the summer of 2001, he had compiled 659 points (290 goals, 369 assists) and 948 penalty minutes in 486 career games with the Flyers. He averaged 1.35 points per game; a pace that would have ranked him sixth all-time in NHL history had been able to sustain that rate of production until his retirement.  It ranks tops on the Flyers in franchise history.

 

Counting only the Philadelphia years of Lindros' career, only Wayne Gretzky (1.92 points per game), Mario Lemieux (1.88), Mike Bossy (1.497), Sidney Crosby (1.398) and Bobby Orr (1.393) produced points at a more prolific pace than Lindros in the history of the NHL.

 

Lindros found strong chemistry with linemates Mark Recchi and Brent Fedyk – the “Crazy Eights” line – as a rookie and then with Recchi and Mikael Renberg his second year. However, his greatest success came as the center of what became known as the Legion of Doom after John LeClair was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens and was placed on a line with Lindros and Renberg. Later, others such as Dainius Zubrus and Keith Jones replaced Renberg, but Lindros and LeClair carried on as a lethal duo.

 

Flyers General Manager Ron Hextall was in his second stint as as the team's goaltender when the Flyers made the blockbuster Feb. 9, 1995 trade that sent star right winger Mark Recchi to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for LeClair, defenseman Eric Desjardins and forward Gilbert Dionne. Looking back, Hextall believes the duo of Lindros and LeClair was the most dominant he's ever seen.

 

"They were both so big, so strong and skilled. They were quite a sight to see," recalled Hextall,

 

After leaving Philadelphia, mounting concussion problems and other issues marked a premature decline in Lindros' production. Combining his production with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars, Lindros' production over the remaining 274 regular season games of his career slipped to 0.75 points per game (82 goals, 124 assists, 206 points). As a result, Lindros ended up ranking 19th on the NHL's all-time points per game list (1.138).

 

The entire hockey world was saddened to learn of the passing of former NHL player, coach and general manager Quinn at the age of 71 on November 23, 2014.  A big and physical defenseman in his NHL playing days, “the big Irishman” had a sharp mind for the game that enabled him to make the successful transition to coaching.

 

Over the course of a prolific coaching career that took him through Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton, the native of Hamilton, Ont., gained the reputation as a tough but fair coach with a knack for getting the best out of his players.  Off the ice, he was a well-respected family man with a kind heart.

 

Quinn’s keen intellect extended beyond his knowledge of hockey Xs and Os.  In 1972, he graduated York University with a B.A. in economics.  After his coaching tenure with the Flyers ended, he enrolled in law school and earned a juris doctor from Widener University.

 

At the behest of legendary coach Shero and general manager Allen, the Flyers hired Quinn as an assistant coach shortly after his retirement as a player after the 1976-77 season. He spent the 1977-78 season (Shero’s final one beyond the Flyers bench) as one of Shero’s assistant coaches, along with former Flyers player and future Stanley Cup winning head coach Terry Crisy.

 

“I learned a lot from Freddie and from Crispy about preparation, adjustments and making expectations clear,” Quinn recalled in an interview in 2012. “Freddie had his own unique ways about him but there was a reason for everything he did. Some coaches demand respect, but you also have to know how to command it. That was what Freddie could do.”

 

Quinn quickly became one of the NHL’s fastest-rising young coaching candidates. The Flyers assigned to be the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Maine Mariners, for the 1978-79 season. Before the end of the season, he switched places with Bob McCammon. For the final 30 games of the season and the playoffs, Quinn became the Flyers head coach, while McCammon went back behind the Mariners’ bench.

 

The 1979-80 season was Quinn’s first full year behind the Flyers’ bench. In what many pundits predicted before the season would be a transitional year for the team, the 37-year-old Quinn steered one of the remarkable campaigns in franchise history. During the regular season, the Flyers reeled off a North American professional sports record 35-game unbeaten streak (25-0-10). In the playoffs, the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final and took the New York Islanders six hard fought games before losing in a controversial overtime finale.

 

Quinn earned the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for the job he did with the 1979-80. Looking back, Flyers Hall of Fame left winger Brian Propp says that it was a well-deserved honor.

 

“Pat was my coach for the Flyer’s when I was a rookie. I always remember his teaching style which helped me as a rookie. His communication was excellent and everyone knew where they stood at all times with him,” said Propp.

 

Longtime Flyers defenseman Joe Watson worked as a pro scout for the Flyers during the 1979-80 season. As the team’s unbeaten streak grew to record proportions, so did the miles that Watson traveled at Quinn’s request.

 

 “Every time the Flyers would win, Pat would send me on another city,” remembers Watson. “It got so that I was totally exhausted. To be totally honest, while I enjoyed the streak, I wasn’t all that sorry to see it finally end.”

 

The Flyers remained a solid regular season team in 1980-81, posting a 97-point campaign but the club could not duplicate the remarkable success it had during the previous season. Mounting injuries to aging veterans and a transition in the dressing room leadership group took its toll.

 

Philadelphia got off to a very strong start in 1982-83 but the club was playing on borrowed time. The team won a lot of high-scoring games in October and early November but the team soon hit the wall. The club played inconsistently. Late in the season, the Flyers relieved Quinn of his coaching duties and promoted McCammon to the head coaching job with the NHL team.

 

 Holmgren, who thrived as a player under Quinn, says that one of his favorite memories of Quinn is actually a non-hockey memory. Holmgren recounts a story of meeting up with Quinn and his family shortly after Quinn’s coaching tenure ended.

 

“I was riding my bike through Newtown Square, PA, in the summer of ‘83.  I stopped at Pat’s house to say hi,” said Holmgren.” Pat was fired as coach earlier that spring and had already enrolled in law school.  It was about 10 am and he never let me leave.

 

“I spent the whole day with him and his family. Sandra kept bringing food. Pat’s daughters, Valerie and Kallie were youngsters, in and out of the pool and listening like I was to Pat talk about everything under the sun. What a great family he has!  I’m sure it was close to midnight before I got a ride home, I had to go back the next day to get my bike. What a day with a great man.”

 

Over the course of his 1,400 game coaching career, Quinn would subsequently go on to win a second Jack Adams Award in 1991-92 and lead the Vancouver Canucks to within one win of the Stanley Cup in 1993-94. The Canucks lost in a seventh and deciding game to the New York Rangers, who were steered by former Flyers head coach Mike Keenan.

 

On New Year’s Eve of 2011, Quinn coached the Flyers team at the Winter Classic against a squad of Rangers legends coached by Keenan. The Philadelphia side included players representing every decade in the franchise’s existence, from the late 1960s to the 2000s.

 

For many years Quinn served on the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee. While voting is not made public, it has bene said that Quinn’s strong advocacy for Shero’s candidacy helped the former coach finally earn posthumous induction. Now it is Quinn’s turn to be immortalized.