Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pat Quinn & Ed Johnston, A Coach Fight for the Ages

Legendary coach Pat Quinn had a tough time transitioning from his career as an active player to that of a coach. This is evidenced by the fact that a mere few days into his career as head coach of the American Hockey League's Maine Mariners he engaged in an on-ice brawl with an opposing coach. His opponent, coach of the New Brunswick Hawks and fellow ex-NHLer Ed Johnston.

In 1978, Quinn was 35 years old and just over one year removed from his last season playing with the Atlanta Flames. Ed Johnston, just shy of his 43rd birthday, had played 16 games the previous year in net for St.Louis and Chicago. The mid-October match between Maine and New Brunswick unfolded as follows;

Oct 18, 78 AP
An AHL game between the New Brunswick Hawks and the Maine Mariners was delayed for more than an hour after both teams became involved in a brawl that eventually involved both coaches. The fight began when Rocky Saganiuk of the Hawks got into a scuffle near his team's bench with John Paddock of the Mariners. As the linesmen moved in to break it up, Saganiuk appeared to gain the upper hand, bringing a Maine player off his bench to join the fray.
Within seconds both benches, with the exception of Mariners' Coach Pat Quinn and Hawks' Coach Ed Johnston, were emptied as the players swarmed to the melee. Several minutes later Quinn and Johnston appeared at centre ice, grabbed each other, and started throwing punches, eventually wrestling on the ice.
By the time order was restored, Jim Cunningham, Glen Cochrane and Quinn of Maine had been banished for the night along with Alain Belanger, Saganiuk and Jonston of the Hawks.

Quinn would be fined $500 and suspended for the next meeting of the two teams in Portland. New Brunswick coach Eddie Johnston was fined $200, but wasn't suspended.

All I can think about is the image of the polyester suited, dress-shoe clad Pat Quinn rolling around on the ice wrestling with a slightly older, slightly smaller ex-goaltender. Amazing. Quinn would only be with Maine for 47 games in 78/79 before he and Philadelphia Flyers coach Bob McCammon switched positions. After a 27-13-7 record in the AHL, Quinn guided the Flyers to an 18-8-4 mark to close out the year. McCammon would lead the Mariners to a 18-9-6 finish and 8-2 in the playoffs capturing the Calder Cup championship.

Ed Johnston would also be coaching in the NHL by the following year with the Chicago Black Hawks. He and Quinn would face each other behind the bench for years to come as coaches of the Penguins and Flyers respectively. They never would tangle at centre-ice again.

1 comment:

Brett Kaarto said...

Outstanding. RIP Mr. Quinn.

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