Canada’s coach, Pat Quinn, knows hockey more than economics. Nonetheless, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce felt he had a few things to teach them.
The former NHL coach made a short one-day visit to Whitehorse to speak at the chamber’s Economic Summit at the High Country Inn on Thursday evening.
Being one of the most successful coaches in NHL and Canadian history, the chamber was hoping to learn about teamwork and team building from Quinn.
“We’re not dealing with sports, we’re dealing with the economy — we’re dealing with the business community that needs to come together as a team to move the economy forward,” said chamber president Rick Karp.
“That’s what we’re asking the business community to do, to come together at this summit to advise us so we can create a business-economic development strategy and move forward with that strategy.”
Among a bevy of humorous hockey anecdotes and fascinating insights into some well known games he coached, including the 2002 Olympic gold medal game and World Juniors semifinal game against Russia, Quinn delivered a message of commitment.
“Above all, it’s important on winning teams that each and every member is totally committed to the team and its objectives,” said Quinn. “You make a commitment to the group — to the people you’re with — this is the primary behavior that is most important to a team’s success.”
Quinn did not fail to mention other fundamentals, such as leadership and communication, but perhaps most relevant to the chamber’s wish of continuing success in the business community through tough economic times is optimism, he said.
“Some teams get that feeling that something good is going to happen,” said Quinn. “That can be an infectious thing — it can go the other way too — but that’s what we introduce, that sense of destiny.
“We’re on a mission here and something good is going to happen.”
The chamber was not the only group to benefit from Quinn’s visit. Before the summit, Quinn met with members of the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association to discuss the possibility of bringing an
NHL team to Whitehorse for part of its training camp, as was done with the Edmonton Oilers in Yellowknife, NWT a few years ago. Another idea discussed was, if not an NHL team, then a visit by a major junior team.
“He gave us a couple ideas,” said Walter Brennan, president of the Amateur Hockey Association. “(He told us of) a couple of teams to contact, whether it be some of the major junior teams of
Western Canada, maybe a few of the NHL teams that are in Western Canada.
“But it’s difficult for those teams to just say, ‘We’re going up to the Yukon for a couple games or a junior camp.’ (It’s) not impossible, it’s just not as easy as you might think.”
As with all businesses, revenue is an NHL team’s main concern when making such decisions, said Brennan.
“Looking at bringing in a team to hold a camp, economics comes into play,” he said. “(Quinn) said, ‘If it’s going to cost the team money, they’re not going to come.’ So basically, as a bottom line, it has to be revenue neutral at worst.”
“There’s no secret that we’re in… the throes of an economic (crisis),” said Quinn in an interview with the News.
“It’s going to affect a bunch of teams, no question. Well, economics has always been important for most teams; I think that crunch is going to be even bigger. So decisions will be much more closely made with regards to the bottom line.”
Apart from the financial incentives involved with attracting high-performance teams to the territory, many other details remain to be examined, thus making the visitation of a team a long-term goal.
“Yellowknife did it a few years ago, so we need to talk to people there to see how that worked,” said Midget Mustangs coach Jim Stephens. “And also if we can get feedback from Edmonton (Oilers), to see what they liked and disliked about it.”
The wisdom of Quinn
On fulfilling one’s potential: “You can’t soar with the eagles if you hang around with a bunch of turkeys.”
On self-improvement: “If you’re not getting better, you’re probably getting worse.”
On the ingredients of success: “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken residue.”
Contact Tom Patrick at