Pat Quinn bleeds Hockey Canada red. It is part of his DNA.
The 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship marks the 10th time that Quinn has unselfishly answered the call to represent his country on the international stage, and his résumé is dotted with success.
He won gold as the coach of Canada's Olympic team in 2002 and took home the title from the World Cup of Hockey in 2004. A third championship came last spring as the bench boss of Canada's National Men’s Under-18 Team.
And now he's hoping to add World Junior gold to his collection. The Hamilton, ON native – and two-time NHL coach of the year – will be behind Canada's bench when the four-time defending gold medalist begins its latest title defense Friday versus the Czech Republic.
"I am proud to be asked and the last two (the U18 assignment and the '09 World Juniors) were ones that came out of the blue and I was not expecting it at all," says Quinn. "So I am very proud to be asked and very excited to be involved in it."
Hockey is his hobby and his passion. The affable Irishman loves being around the rink; he says there's little difference between coaching NHL players or teenagers because of what they share, and that's hockey.
"The principals of coaching are not different, no matter who you are dealing with, whether it is guys who are 50 or guys who are five," says Quinn. "What you have to do is establish what your talent level is and what kind of a plan you can give them so they can succeed. You support your players and ask lots of them, and then you have a chance to win at the end of the day.
"The bottom line is that young people and old people, the one thing they want to do is do the job well. And my job as a coach is to try to give them a way to do that be the best they can be. You heard that all the time but that is what it is really all about."
Quinn and his staff selected a roster than includes eight 18-year-olds and two 17-year-olds. The World Juniors is historically known as a pressure-packed event where 19-year-olds dominate the play.
Critics have maintained that when Quinn was in the NHL, he preferred veterans over young players. It's an easy argument to dismiss, especially in light of the under-18 gold medal last spring.
"We have a common thread in the game, whether you are an older fellow or a younger fellow. What you have is the common language and that is the game,'' says Quinn. "They have an interest in doing their best and I have my interest in helping them be their best.
"So yes there is an age difference and they listen to different music and have different takes (on life) but pretty much their values are not a lot different than mine either. Their values are not much different. They are smarter when we were when I was their age. They are more exposed to it and sometimes you think more mature. But we do have that common language."
With Quinn behind the bench, the Canadians will stress discipline and defence. The hallmark of Canada's success in four straight gold-medal finishes at the World Juniors has been a tight, unyielding defence through all three zones on the ice, and pressuring the opposition into coughing up the puck.
Quinn wants his players to be physical and not run around looking for the big hit or revenge.
"You have to turn your cheek and you have to play tough and when it is your chance to hit somebody make sure you finish it off. Don't let anyone off the hook but don't chase it around because penalties will kill you in this and later on it becomes a one game series so you have to have control," he says.
And you know that Quinn will do everything to keep things under control.
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