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editorial

Vancouver Canucks' Pat Quinn is pictured an undated file photo. Quinn died Sunday night in Vancouver after a lengthy illness, the Hockey Hall of Fame and Vancouver Giants said Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESSThe Canadian Press

The images one retains of John Brian Patrick Quinn are a function of geography and age.

Older hockey fans likely recall the moment in the spring of 1969 when "the Big Irishman," then a Toronto Maple Leaf defenceman, became truly famous: with a scandalous elbow planted on Bobby Orr's kisser. He was vigorously pummelled by several Boston Bruins in retribution, and by at least one fan.

People in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton, among other places, may remember a blustery coach or a wry executive usually seen chomping a stogie of Churchillian proportions.

Those of a more recent vintage might think of a beefy, grey-haired presence behind the Team Canada bench at the 2002 Winter Olympics (the first gold-medal squad in 50 years), and at the 2009 World Junior Championships (the last time this country won the tournament).

He may have indulged in rough-hewn hockey as a player, but Mr. Quinn, a native of Hamilton, held progressive ideas as a coach – and his 684 regular-season wins rank fifth all-time.

That he died the same day as the legendary Russian bench boss Viktor Tikhonov forms a sad symmetry: Fans throughout the game's stylistic spectrum have reason to mourn.

Pat Quinn never managed to hoist a Stanley Cup, but he took the Canucks to game seven of the final in 1994 and won almost every other championship of note.

His most recent job was an emeritus position, as chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The institution should see fit to induct him as an honoured member.