When I headed towards Rogers Arena last night, my husband sent me a text cautioning me of what I might see when I entered the gate:
Keep your eyes peeled when you come in Gate 16. It was quite the rogues gallery when I came
As I was walking down Abbot Street (now Pat Quinn Way) to my regular gate, Orland Kurtenbach and his wife walked by for the unveiling of the street sign on Abbot St. and Pacific Boulevard. As I came inside, I saw Kirk McLean talking with a few others. Usually, I don’t get phased by seeing McLean, he’s in and around the arena quite a bit during the regular season, but yesterday, it felt different. There was an energy the minute I set foot through the doors. As I waited for the elevator to take me to Level 5, I started recognizing more faces, and then I thought I saw Markus Naslund which made me do a double take and I wasn’t sure, but I was… Anyway, everyone was in great anticipation of the pre-game ceremony.
When I met up with my husband in our section, he told me of some of the people he saw gathered at Gate 16. He said, in a cluster, there was Brian Burke, George McPhee, Jim Robson and Bob Nicholson. Rogues, maybe, but hockey’s upper echelon, definitely. As we were having our pre-game dinner, I believe we both felt at a loss for words. All we could do was smile just think of how much Pat Quinn meant to hockey and we in Vancouver were so fortunate to have felt his impact so profoundly.
When the actual ceremony began, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and legendary broadcaster, Jim Robson hosted the evening. It was respectful, memorable without being too long winded. It was perfect. Rick Ley, Bobby Clarke, Cliff Fletcher, Ron Toigo, Markus Naslund, Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, Kirk McLean, Bob Nicholson and Orland Kurtebach all joined in for the on-ice ceremony. But it was the amazing entourage of people who weren’t shown publicly that astounded many. Washington Capitals GM, George McPhee, singer Michael Buble, Flames President- Brian Burke were amongst the many who gathered at Rogers Arena on that very special night.
Seeing people in the hockey world pay their respects to a man that meant so much to this game, to this city and especially to this team. Pat Quinn had an impact everywhere he want into hockey, but nowhere to the extent of Vancouver. I was still a young girl (11 or 12) when Pat Quinn took charge of the Vancouver Canucks, but I do remember the less than half full Pacific Coliseum before his arrival and how things changed when he put his stamp on the team. There was a culture, there was a vibe, there was respectability associated with the Canucks that lacked in previous regimes.
Highlights of the Pat Quinn Ceremony
- Seeing the array of team jerseys that was associated with Pat Quinn in the world of hockey. Even more so the people who wore them out as they were introduced to Rogers Arena.
- The appropriateness of the St. Patrick’s Day to remember The Big Irishman.
- Bagpipes and Mark Donnelly singing his rendition of “Irish Eyes Are Smiling” paid a wonderful musical tribute.
- The combatants of the night, were the two NHL teams Quinn had the most success with as a head coach.
- All the dignitaries throughout the night that went on-air with kind words to say about Pat.
- Seeing his daughters and granddaughter with the ceremonial puck drop was a perfect way to end the ceremony.
- The one that impacted me the most during the ceremony was seeing Bure, Linden and McLean together in their old “Skate Logo” jersey brought the crowd to a rousing cheer. Memories of a team from yesteryear brought many smiles and tears of joy to some present at the arena. Most significant part of that trio together was, as they were leaving the ice after the ceremony, Linden patted Bure on the back and shared what seemed like kinds words with the Russian Rocket. Two men, who have not always seen eye to eye, as teammates and people, put their differences aside for the night to remember Pat Quinn. That’s speaks volumes of how much Pat Quinn meant to people.
For those that missed the ceremony last night, or those who just want to see it again, here is the ceremony in its entirety.