ALSO ON SLAM!
Saturday, October 16, 1999
Quinn's act not missed
Back then, the Orca Bay organization was paying Pat Quinn a mere million a year and the big, intimidating Irishman was merrily running the club towards oblivion.
Brian Burke was Pat's assistant, his right-hand man, his hatchet guy.
Today, Quinn is dazzling the Toronto media men as he serves as GM and coach of the Maple Buds.
Now, with star pivot Mats Sundin out for a month or more, Quinn had best butter up to his cheerleaders as I don't believe he can intimidate them as he did Vancouver.
Meanwhile, Burke is now boss of tonight's Saddledome visitors, the wet coast wonders, the Canucks.
My estimation of Burke hit the basement years ago when he penned a letter to the Vancouver Sun, probably at Quinn's direction, complaining about sports writer Mike Beamish's coverage and asking that he be taken off the hockey beat.
That was strictly bush.
That also was Pat Quinn's way.
Through sheer size, he tried to intimidate and had little patience for criticism. When a reporter came along with enough cojones to point out that his past glories and big gestures didn't make him a good GM, Pat and his boy Burke would and could make things very uncomfortable for that reporter.
When Quinn finally was fired, a West Coast sports writer, Pete McMartin penned, "I think he should be fired -- from a cannon."
A lover of big cars and bigger cigars, Quinn, overall a huge failure in Vancouver, is the hero of Hogtown.
I'd wager it doesn't last long. His bullying ways will crop up soon.
Meanwhile, Burke, so far, is riding high heading the Canucks charge back from mediocrity. To date, the coast crew isn't the usual collection of overpaid, underachieving slackers. They have been workaholics and, as a result, successful. So much so Brian Burke hasn't written any more bush-league letters.
After tonight's date with Canucks, coach Brian Sutter herds his team on a crunching six-game road trip covering a dozen days. Flames start the trek in St. Louis Tuesday, then it's on to Florida, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Ottawa and Toronto.
Certainly a .500 road trip is very obtainable as Ottawa Senators are the lone A team the locals face. (St. Loo hasn't got Al MacInnis).
I believe this jaunt is the Flames' most severe of the year and couldn't come at a better time.
Sutter's Flames, on first look, are one of the youngest in the NHL and at the bottom end of the size and weight scale. In other words -- inexperienced, small and light.
Altogether now -- "It isn't the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."
And a bow-wow to you, too.
PENALTY SHOTS ... The community-owned Lethbridge Hurricanes had a profit of $120,000 on their 1998-99 operations ... So how much did Dean Clark's Hitmen make for the Flames? Spoiled sport CEO Ron Bremner won't let me see the books ... The 40-year-old son of Emile (The Cat) Francis, Bobby, is Phoenix' third coach in four years and 14th in the team's 20-year history. By comparison, Boston Bruins have changed bench bosses only 22 times in 75 years.