Bittersweet Day at the Hall

TORONTO (Nov. 12) — Irony enveloped the Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday.

It was Remembrance Day here in Canada and for the second time in three years, a former coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs — Irish; named Pat, and one of only three men to coach the team in the Stanley Cup semifinals since 1967 — drew posthumous acclaim at Yonge and Front St. Two years ago, as Pat Quinn lay dying in his Vancouver home, Pat Burns (represented by his widow, Line) was inducted into the Builders’ category of the Hall. Burns coached the Leafs from 1992 to 1996 and is best remembered for guiding Doug Gilmour and Co. to within a game of the Stanley Cup final in 1993. He died of cancer Nov. 19, 2010.

Friday, it was Quinn’s turn. Represented radiantly by his daughter, Kalli, the Big Irishman took his place alongside Burns in the Builders’ wing. Quinn stood behind the Toronto bench between 1998 and 2006 — occupying the dual role of general manager and coach from 1999–2005 — and came within two victories of the Stanley Cup final in 2002 (a healthy Leafs team may have won the National Hockey League title that spring). He is the only man to guide the Blue and White to 100 or more points in a regular season, doing it three times in five years between 1999–2000 and 2003–04. The latter club holds the franchise record of 103 points. Quinn died of a liver ailment on Nov. 24, 2014 — one week after Burns’ Hall of Fame induction.

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THE FRONT ST. FACADE OF THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME ON FRIDAY FEATURED TWO OF THE FOUR INDUCTEES IN THE CLASS OF 2016 — A FORMER COACH AND PLAYER OF THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS.

Not to be forgotten on Friday were three other members of the 2016 Class: Eric Lindros, Sergei Makarov and Rogatien Vachon. They will be inducted during a ceremony on Monday night televised nationally by TSN. Still, it was difficult to shake the pall of Quinn’s absence. Kalli Quinn stood in marvelously for her late father — her mother and Pat’s widow, Sandra, also in the building, yet far from the cameras and microphones. Had he been alive, one can easily envision the twinkle in Pat’s eyes; the prideful, sheepish grin… and, yes, an unlit cigar getting mangled between his molars. I have fond memory of covering Quinn’s Maple Leaf teams as a reporter for The FAN–590. And, I missed him — lots — on Friday. I was at the Hall with my trusty NIKON:

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HALL OF FAME CHAIRMAN AND FORMER LEAFS GREAT LANNY McDONALD POSES (LEFT) WITH KALLI QUINN, TWO YEARS AFTER LINE BURNS (RIGHT) REPRESENTED HER HUSBAND, PAT, AT THE INDUCTION PRESS CONFERENCE. McDONALD REPLACED PAT QUINN AS CHAIRMAN IN 2015.

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I SNAPPED THESE PHOTOS AT THE AIR CANADA CENTRE ON NOV. 29, 2014 PRIOR TO A GAME BETWEEN THE MAPLE LEAFS AND WASHINGTON CAPITALS. IT WAS THE FIRST ACC ENCOUNTER AFTER QUINN’S DEATH AND THE CLUB HONORED HIM IN A PRE–GAME CEREMONY.

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MACHINE GUN LANNY — LOOKING GOOD AT 63 YEARS OF AGE — INTRODUCED THE HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES ON FRIDAY. BETWEEN 1975 AND 1979, McDONALD AND DARRYL SITTLER FORMED ONE OF THE GREAT SCORING COMBINATIONS IN TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY. LANNY WAS INDUCTED INTO THE PLAYERS’ WING IN 1992, THREE YEARS AFTER HELPING CALGARY WIN THE STANLEY CUP.

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McDONALD POSES WITH ERIC LINDROS, WHO WON THE HART TROPHY WITH PHILADELPHIA AS THE NHL’s MOST VALUABLE PLAYER AFTER THE LOCKOUT–SHORTENED 1994–95 SEASON (29 GOALS, 70 POINTS IN 46 GAMES). WITH AN INCOMPARABLE BLEND OF SIZE, SKILL AND MALICE, LINDROS COULD HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE MOST DOMINANT PLAYERS IN NHL HISTORY. HE HAD SEASONS OF 47, 44, 41, 40 AND 37 GOALS; POINT ACCUMULATIONS OF 115, 97 AND 93. A PENCHANT, HOWEVER, TO SKATE WITH HIS HEAD DOWN LED TO CONCUSSIVE HITS THAT PREMATURELY ENDED HIS CAREER.

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LANNY POSES WITH SERGEI MAKAROV, WHO ARRIVED IN THE NHL IN 1989–90 AT 31 YEARS OF AGE AFTER A DECADE OF BRILLIANCE IN THE SOVIET UNION. MAKAROV WON THE CALDER TROPHY AS NHL “ROOKIE”–OF–THE–YEAR IN ’89–90, COMPILING 24 GOALS AND 86 POINTS IN 80 GAMES. HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE “MAKAROV RULE” THAT CURRENTLY STIPULATES A PLAYER MUST BE 26 OR YOUNGER TO WIN THE CALDER. SERGEI PLAYED IN THE NHL WITH CALGARY, SAN JOSE AND DALLAS.

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LANNY AND ROGIE VACHON, AGAINST WHOM HE PLAYED MANY–A–GAME BETWEEN 1973 AND 1982. THE 5–FOOT–7 GOALIE BURST UPON THE NHL SCENE DURING THE 1967 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, SHARING CHORES WITH THE LATE LORNE (GUMP) WORSLEY AS MONTREAL LOST A SIX–GAME FINAL TO THE MAPLE LEAFS. BUT, VACHON BECAME A STAR WITH THE LOS ANGELES KINGS IN THE MID–70’s. HIS 2.24 GOALS–AGAINST AVERAGE IN 1974–75 BACKSTOPPED L.A. TO A 105–POINT SEASON; STILL A FRANCHISE RECORD. HE WAS GENERAL MANAGER OF THE KINGS FROM 1984 TO 1992, SPANNING THE ERA IN WHICH WAYNE GRETZKY POPULARIZED HOCKEY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.

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KALLI QUINN, SERGEI MAKAROV AND ERIC LINDROS LOOK ON AS ROGIE VACHON IS INTERVIEWED ON FRIDAY BY PRESS CONFERENCE HOST DAVID NAYLOR OF TSN RADIO.

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THE 2016 INDUCTEES POSE WITH THEIR HALL OF FAME RINGS.

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LINDROS DOES A LIVE TV INTERVIEW ON TSN AFTER THE CEREMONY. ERIC PLAYED 33 GAMES WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS IN 2005–06 — A SEASON MARRED BY LIGAMENT DAMAGE IN HIS WRIST THAT REQUIRED SURGERY. HE HAD 11 GOALS AND 11 ASSISTS FOR HIS HOMETOWN TEAM.

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VACHON (LEFT) AND LINDROS ARE SURROUNDED AT THE HALL BY CAMERAS AND MICROPHONES.

LEAFS ON DISPLAY

Following the induction press conference, I wandered into the Hall of Fame–proper and viewed the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Exhibit, honoring the club’s 100th season in the NHL:

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HELMETED LANNY McDONALD (RIGHT) AS A WINGER WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS.

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A LEAFS JERSEY WORN DURING THE OUTDOOR BRIDGESTONE WINTER CLASSIC OF JAN. 1, 2014, WHEN TORONTO PLAYED DETROIT BEFORE MORE THAN 100,000 SPECTATORS AT “THE BIG HOUSE” IN ANN ARBOR — MICHIGAN STADIUM. AND, A RED SEAT FROM MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.

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TEEDER KENNEDY WORE THIS JERSEY AS CAPTAIN OF THE LEAFS FROM 1948–55.

VINTAGE JERSEYS

Always my favorite display at the Hall of Fame.

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ST. LOUIS BLUES (LEFT) AND PITTSBURGH PENGUINS FROM THE EXPANSION SEASON OF 1967–68.

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KANSAS CITY SCOUTS (1974–76) AND CLEVELAND BARONS (1976–78).

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DETROIT RED WINGS; PHILADELPHIA QUAKERS (1930–31) AND BOSTON BRUINS.

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LOS ANGELES KINGS JERSEY FROM THE 1970’s. AND, THE JUNIOR EDMONTON OIL KINGS OF THE 60’s.

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MANNA–MEMORY–FROM–HEAVEN FOR A LEAFS FAN OF THE 1970’s: LANNY McDONALD, DARRYL SITTLER AND BORJE SALMING (ALL HALL–OF–FAMERS) AT THE AIR CANADA CENTRE PRIOR TO FRIDAY NIGHT’S GAME BETWEEN TORONTO AND PHILADELPHIA. TSN IMAGE

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