The Hockey Hall of Fame’s executive committee took advantage of a quiet year to right some wrongs, inducting former Toronto Maple Leafs Pat Quinn and Eric Lindros into the esteemed family, among others.
Quinn is most famous for his work on the bench rather than on the ice, but he did represent the Leafs in both regards. He made his NHL debut in 1968/69 in Blue and White, and played a total of 103 regular season and playoff games with the club before moving onto a career as a steady defensive defenceman with the Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Flames.
After his playing career was done, he moved onto coaching. Quinn went to the Finals with the Philadelphia Flyers in just his first full season in 1979/80, solidifying him as a big name. He moved on to the Kings a few years later before finding a spot as the coach and GM of the Vancouver Canucks, where he once again game within striking distance of the Stanley Cup.
Quinn took over in Toronto at the start of the 1998/99 season and became one of the most beloved coaches in Leafs history, immediately taking the team to the conference Finals in his first year and winning at least one series in five of seven seasons in town. Toronto never ended up with a points percentage below 0.549 in his tenure, and it took a playoff miss in 2005/06 for him and the team to part ways.
Quinn, who was beloved for his stern yet caring personality, passed away in November of 2014. He’s been inducted as a builder.
Lindros, on the other hand, is a huge “What could have been”, both in the respect of the league and with the Leafs. Toronto made one of it’s most historic catastrophic mistakes in October 1989, when it sent a 1991 first round draft pick to the New Jersey Devils for Tom Kurvers.
Most know that as “the Scott Niedermayer trade”, but few know that the Leafs were well on their way to finishing last in 1991. Multiple trades with Quebec to ensure that they would jump ahead were all the Leafs could do to have stopped themselves from trading one of the most hyped up prospects in history for a depth defenceman that they had already traded.
Lindros was larger than life, both literally and figuratively. The 6’5, 230-pound giant dominated games with an unprecedented combination of size, aggression, and finesse, impressive scouts in literally every facet of a skater’s game. While he refused to play for the Nordiques, he immediately dominated for the Philadelphia Flyers, simultaneously being one of the most feared players of the 90s while posting one of the highest points-per-game rates in league history before a myriad of severe injuries started to slow him down.
Toronto attempted to acquire him in 2001 but were unsuccessful. He did, however, end up signing with the team as a free agent in 2005/06, Quinn’s last year with the team. He started off hot, scoring at over a point per game for the first few weeks and leaving some wondering whether he or Mats Sundin was the team’s top centre. It didn’t last, though, as the injury bug struck once again, ending his season, and tenure with his childhood team, at just 33 games.
Russian legend Sergei Makarov and post-expansion goaltending staple Rogie Vachon will also be inducted.