Monday, 24 November 2014

Loss Of Great Leaders

There is no denying the impact that both Viktor Tikhonov and Pat Quinn left on the sport of hockey. Both men were incredible players, leaders behind the bench, and both men built teams that were perennial championship favorites. Tikhonov was, of course, the architect and bench boss of some of the greatest teams in international hockey when he ran the Soviet Union's program. Pat Quinn oversaw the building of the Vancouver Canucks, and then ran the bench in Toronto where the Maple Leafs were continually a solid team throughout the latter half of the 1990s into the new millennium.

I'm not going to run down both men's lives here, but I do want to point out the highlights in their illustrious careers.

Mr. Tikohonov received the Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1978, awarded to honour "great deeds and services to the Soviet state and society in the fields of production, science, culture, literature, the arts, education, health, social and other spheres of labour activities". He received the Order of Friendship of Peoples in 1981 for "accomplishments in strengthening of inter-ethnic and international friendship and cooperation, for economical, political, scientific, military, and cultural development of the Soviet Union". In 1983, Mr. Tikohonov was awarded the Order of Lenin - the highest decoration given out by the Soviet Union - for outstanding services rendered to the State, promoting friendship and cooperation between peoples and in strengthening peace, and for meritorious services to the Soviet state and society. Mr. Tikhonov was awarded the Order of the October Revolution - the second-highest honour given out by the Soviet Union - for services furthering communism or the state. And we haven't even started talking about the honours he received for his hockey contributions, although they played a big part in the above awards.

In 1996, he was given the Order For Merit to the Fatherland for services to the State and outstanding contribution to the development of national hockey. In 1998, Mr. Tikhonov was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame as a builder for his work with the Soviet hockey program. In 1999, he was awarded the Medal "For Distinguished Labour" given to individuals to recognize and honour high performances in labour or contributions in the fields of science, culture or the manufacturing industry. In 2000, he was given the Order of Honour for outstanding contribution to the development of national hockey. In 2010, he was given the Order of Friendship for outstanding contribution to the development of national sport as seen to the upper right. He was also named as a Chevalier of Olympic Order and was awarded the Medal "For Military Valour", 1st class in his distinguished career.

Mr. Tikhonov was also a defenceman with VVS Moscow and Dynamo Moscow from 1949 to 1963, winning four national Russian championships. He was the coach of the Soviet Union team that won eight World Championship gold medals and three Olympic gold medals in 1984, 1988, and 1992. Mr. Tikhonov also led CSKA Moscow to twelve consecutive Russian SuperLeague championships during his time behind the bench.

Needless to say, he's a well-decorated hockey icon.

Pat Quinn, nicknamed "The Big Irishman", also had a host of accolades to his name. Mr. Quinn was named the Jack Adams Trophy winner in 1980 and 1992 with Philadelphia and Vancouver, respectively. During that 1980 season with the Flyers, Mr. Quinn coached the team to a record breaking 35-game unbeaten streak the ended with the Flyers losing to the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Final. He was part of the Team Canada coaching staff that captured the gold medal in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, and followed that up as being part of the coaching staff that won the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. In 2008, Mr. Quinn led Hockey Canada's U18 men's team to a gold medal in Kazan, Russia, and followed that effort up in 2009 with a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa. He was also a silver medalist at the Spengler Cup in 2006 when Canada lost to HC Davos in the final.

Mr. Quinn also found success on the ice as he was a member of the 1963 Edmonton Oil Kings team that captured the Memorial Cup. He had originally signed with the Detroit Red Wings, but played his first NHL game as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1968. In 1970, the Canucks selected Mr. Quinn in the expansion draft, and, two years later, he was selected by the Atlanta Flames in the expansion draft. Mr. Quinn would nine play seasons in the league with the Maple Leafs, Canucks and Atlanta Flames. As a part-owner of the Vancouver Giants, he would win a second Memorial Cup in 2007. The Parkdale Arena in Mr. Quinn's hometown of Hamilton, Ontario had been renamed in 2005 as the Pat Quinn Parkdale Arena in his honour.

We lost Viktor Tikhonov and Pat Quinn today after both battled long illnesses. Mr. Tikohonov passed away at the age of 84. Mr. Quinn passed away at the age of 71. The hockey world has lost two of best minds in the game of hockey today.

Rest in peace, gentlemen. It was an honour to be able to witness your genius.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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