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Former Canuck recalls legendary coach

Dave Babych said Pat Quinn kept him in Vancouver



A former Canuck recalled how coach Pat Quinn could make you wait, but make it worth your while.

Defenceman Dave Babych, who played with Vancouver from 1991 to 1998, was a free agent in the summer of 1997 and was mulling over an offer from the San Jose Sharks.

It was the opening day of free agency, but the Sharks wanted an answer by 6 p.m. that night. Babych told Quinn, who was serving as the team's general manager at that time, he would stay with the Canucks if they could match San Jose's lucrative offer.

"At 5:59, I walk upstairs, go into our room, and I start dialing," he recalled. "I'm probably halfway through dialing to tell them I'm going to take it. My cell phone rings, (wife) Diana answers, and then she yells upstairs 'It's Pat.'

"I hang up, and I'm looking at the clock radio and it says 6:00. I didn't know if he was calling to wish me luck, but then he said 'We'll match it.'"

The reunion was short-lived, as Quinn was fired early that season and Babych was traded to Philadelphia later in the year.

Quinn, who died at age 71 Sunday night in Vancouver after a lengthy illness, was with the Canucks from 1987 through 1997 in various capacities, and Babych stressed his value to the club was unmatched.

"He's basically been the face of the franchise. There's nobody else even close to that," Babych said. "I'm glad he got his due when he was added to the Ring of Honour last year."

Babych recalled Quinn while in town at the Cinnamon Bear, where he was attending a packed Movember fundraiser organized by friend Tim Koshul, the establishment's food and beverage manager. During his career, Babych was known almost as much for his moustache as for his fine play on the ice, and was invited to be a celebrity judge for the contest, which raised money for BC Cancer Care. The total was unavailable at press time.

Babych became a Canuck once again in 2009, serving as the team's player development coach until this July, when several new faces were brought in as part of major changes within the organization. He had hoped to land another job in hockey for this season, but the timing wasn't on his side, as few positions were left by the time he knew he'd be looking.

For now, he's a partner in Prince George-based Environmental Mats Ltd., which supplies access mats to oil companies.