• Quinn on Gagner

    by  • September 12, 2013 • Hockey • 15 Comments

    I love inside stories about hockey as much as the next guy and Pat Quinn was telling them on Vancouver radio the other day, including one about his time in Edmonton:

    My last job in Edmonton, they had a first round pick there that…at 18 Edmonton had decided that they needed to change their fortunes because they’d pretty much been a bad team for almost 20 years since they won the Cup there. So, he come in and this guy, I could skate faster than him. There was no danger. He still had time where you didn’t have to waive him. So I said, “Y’know, anyone that comes in like that, if you want to get this team back…” because up there the nuts were running the funny farm, that’s really what was wrong with that organization at the time and maybe still is, I don’t know, I said “Send him down. Send him down to the minor league team right now.” We had to expose another player that required waivers, a little wee guy that also played in London but could really skate and I said ‘We won’t lose this guy, we might get something out of it because he was a high pick in a trade after we don’t expose him.’ Well, we sure enough lost him after we did expose him. The other kid stayed there.

    The answer to me was “Did you know he’s a first round pick?” I said “Yes, I know he’s a first round pick.” “Well, a first round pick that we should be playing here, he played last year. “He’s in lousy shape. It’s not going to cost you anything. Send a message to this hockey team that you mean something.” They refused to do it.

    What an odd story. It seems to be pretty obviously about Sam Gagner (the guy who came to camp and wasn’t in shape) and Rob Schremp (the uh, “little wee guy that also played in London but could really skate”). Readers may recall that Gagner started the season on the fourth line as the glorious JFJ: First Line Power Forward Era dawned.

    I’d be interested to know if Gagner really wasn’t in shape or if he was just kind of a crappy skater. I don’t think it’s a secret that skating hasn’t historically been the strongest part of Gagner’s game, although I thought he looked like a markedly better skater last year. Maybe Gagner’s attitude has done a 180 since 2009 – it happens with lots of young guys – but I don’t recall ever hearing that he was a guy who had a tendency to be in poor shape. I’m not opposed to sending guys down who were on the team last year but I’m not sure how much a message it sends to the rest of the team when it just happens to be a guy on a two-way deal who doesn’t require waivers.

    In any event, history’s kind of borne out the opinion (which was obvious at the time, which was why Schremp was kind of a punchline prospect) that Rob Schremp can’t play in the NHL and Sam Gagner can. Quinn’s line about the nuts running the funny farm may well be apt – JFJ WAS ON THE FIRST LINE – but I think he’s kind of underselling his own contribution to the dysfunction. There’s probably a great book to be written about the Steve Tambellini years; hopefully somebody writes it some day or, at the very least, it’s an early chapter in a book about the next Oiler dynasty.


    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com


    15 Responses to Quinn on Gagner

    1. Darren
      September 12, 2013 at

      I think Pat Quinn’s best days as a coach were already becoming very small in his rear-view mirror by the time the Oilers hired(and soon fired) him. He’s not wrong about the nuts running the team back then – one of their biggest mistakes was hiring a guy who figured he was a professional coach and therefore had no need of knowing what he had with this team. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to learn that he uses euphemisms like this first-round pick guy a the little wee guy, because the truth is he never learned their names. The Oilers hired Quinn 20 years too late – all they got was a disinterested, arrogant boor.

      • Craig
        September 13, 2013 at

        I noticed that Quinn was always forgetting players names in the post-game interviews.
        He’d refer to “that quick little number 13″ or “that big kid on our 2nd D-pairing.”

        I think you are right that he never even was able to learn half of his players names.

    2. Jordan
      September 12, 2013 at

      While Gagner’s skating may not be superb at the NHL level, wasn’t skating THE knock on Rob Schremp for many years? I’m not sure we can trust much of Quinn’s content if the crux of his argument is that Rob Schremp could “really skate”.

      • Tyler Dellow
        September 12, 2013 at

        Yeah, that’s kind of what I was saying without precisely saying it. Schremp was a horrible skater.

        • George Bachul
          September 12, 2013 at

          The story to me didn’t make sense.

          Gagner would have been 19 during the time that Old Time Coach was saying to send him to the minor league. Which if he meant juniors, also didn’t make sense since he wouldn’t develop there anyways.

          Also, if he is talking about Gagner’s 19 year old season, Schremp would have been 22 at the time. He wouldn’t have required waivers with 3 GP on his entry level deal.

          Quinn’s story has holes.

    3. Tyler Dellow
      September 12, 2013 at

      @George I think Gagner could have gone to the A in 2009-10, because he was two years post-draft. As far as Schremp needing waivers, he obviously did because the Oilers put him on waivers and NYI claimed him.

      • George Bachul
        September 12, 2013 at

        I was looking at the chronology based on what Quinn said. If Gagner was turning 19 after being there at 18 the year prior, he couldn’t go to the A. The Oilers put Schremp on waivers the following year in September. It would appear to me the way his quote is written, the talk is about the 2008-09 season. Unless I am not reading it right.

        • Tyler Dellow
          September 12, 2013 at

          Quinn wasn’t in Edmonton to offer advice in 2008-09.

          • George Bachul
            September 12, 2013 at

            Clear as mud now…except him thinking Schremp could skate.

            • Racki
              September 12, 2013 at

              Good that you guys hashed this out because I had the same thought as George after reading the article. Quinn’s talking about sending what sounded like an 18 yr old Gagner down but I get it now after this condo.

              Quinn comes off as a man sour about having a short coaching stint before being forced into Milton’s office in storage room b. Can’t say he’s off about nuts running the funny farm though, but I think things will be better with MacT at the helm. Still concerns about the guys above him though.

    4. Beenz
      September 12, 2013 at

      Shremp seemed like a fast skater with his white skates. They were blurry for Quinn’s old eye balls.

    5. BigOilerFan
      September 12, 2013 at

      Quinn came to Edmonton with the attitude he was smarter than everyone. His major criticism of the Oiler boys was that they hadn’t learned how to “be a team”. At the same time, he never took ownership of the team – he acted like an outside consultant that kept referring to the Oilers, using “them” and “they”; never “us” or “we”.

    6. godot10
      September 12, 2013 at

      I think Quinn is demonstrating signs of memory loss here.

      1) The Oilers had made the Stanley Cup finals in 2006. He doesn’t seem to remember that.
      2) Rob Schremp is slower than Gagner.
      3) That might have been the summer Gagner tried bulking up, which affected his slow speed, making him even slower. Gagner has never been unfit. Slow and small and physically thoroughly average, but never out of shape.

      Quinn and Renney spent 3 years trying to run Gagner off the team. It says more about them than it does about Gagner. Gagner still made slow progress in his game, even in the face of morons for coaches those three years.

      Where are Quinn’s guys…Jacques, Sullivan, Brule…the guys he gave the push too.

    7. Jim
      September 13, 2013 at

      Well, reading that quote sure does refresh ugly old memories of the OTC and the onion belt. Like the rest here, I can believe the line about the who was running the funny farm. Those were the guys who hired OTC after all and he was a real part of the problem, JFJ and side-burned Vishnovski and all. The quote is incoherent. Schremp a good skater? Quinn implies that Schremp was his type of player?? You all know the answer to that question ( cough ). You can only conclude that Quinn’s memory is now covered with the haze of a vaseline smear; self-exculpation or the incapacity to recall real details and events.

      He didn’t seem terribly strong on the details back in the day either…

      I’m hoping that the new coach never develops such contempt for the players he is supposed to develop.

    8. dawgbone
      September 13, 2013 at

      I recall some video of Gagner doing some pretty insane strength at fitness programs in his offseason and I’m pretty sure he’s been doing it forever.

      Are we sure he wasn’t talking about Schremp being the guy to send down (he was also a first round pick). I mean his story is still loopy as hell but Schremp was the one who was the really poor skater and the one who never really took fitness seriously.

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