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Toronto Maple Leafs GM and coach Pat Quinn left shows his displeasure with the referee as he stands beside assistant coach Rick Ley during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver Saturday March 16, 2003.CHUCK STOODY/The Canadian Press

You could probably walk into any dressing room in the NHL on Monday afternoon and find someone touched by Pat Quinn.

But when it comes to one of the teams he coached, the Toronto Maple Leafs, his influence was even more pronounced, even though none of the current players were there during his seven year tenure behind the bench between 1998 and 2006.

Almost everyone in the organization seemed to have a thoughtful memory or story about Quinn, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 71.

"He was a great man," said defenceman Cody Franson, who offered a story about winning the Pat Quinn Trophy as the Vancouver Giants top defenceman when he played for the junior team that Quinn was part owner of. "He was a man that was very easy to be around. He'll be very missed by those who knew him."

Morgan Rielly, a second-year Leaf from West Vancouver, recalled coming to Toronto as a recently drafted 18-year-old to watch a Leafs game, and running into Quinn at the Air Canada Centre.

Quinn sat beside him the whole night and offered words of encouragement to the youngster, who he knew from spending so much time in hockey circles in Vancouver, his adopted hometown after years of success with the Canucks as coach and GM.

"We just talked about hockey pretty much the whole time," Rielly said. "It wasn't about how I could improve. It was about how I was on my way up, and it was all positive all the time.

"The people in Vancouver love him and rightfully so," he added. "He had a huge impact on the game at all levels [in the city]. He was a special person."

Quinn's time in Toronto was the last time the franchise was truly competitive. They posted three seasons with 100-plus points and averaged 97, making the playoffs all but his final season, when he was controversially fired.

Five of those years, they went to the second round or beyond, including two trips to the conference finals in 1999 and 2002.

Many of the current Leafs also remembered him as the long-time coach in Vancouver, including the Canucks memorable run to the finals in 1994.

"He was such a good leader," said centre Mike Santorelli, a Burnaby native. "He did such a good job. He put that team together and definitely made the city of Vancouver proud. Just a tragedy."

"He was the face of the franchise," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "The big man behind the bench. We lost a great hockey guy."

Several members of the Leafs staff had closer ties. Leafs GM Dave Nonis and director of hockey and scouting administration Reid Mitchell both started their careers under him in Vancouver and were particularly shaken by the news of his death.

Mitchell had some entertaining stories about his former boss on Monday, including how Quinn promoted him to be the Leafs video coach in 2001 after he professed only the knowledge of how to program a VCR.

He went on to serve alongside Quinn as the video coach with the Canadian team at the both the World Cup and Olympics.

It was a long way from where he started in a ticket sales job with the Canucks back in 1995.

"I owe him a lot of gratitude, and I'm not alone in that regard," Mitchell said. "He'll never be forgotten. He was a real mentor. And to a lot of us, he was a real father figure.

"[He was] obviously a great hockey man. But he was a better person."