Cliff Ronning Talks About Pat Quinn Classic

The late Pat Quinn left a long legacy in the NHL, and particularly in Vancouver he was very accomplished. Quinn played for the Canucks for two seasons in the early 1970’s, and following his playing career was Vancouver’s President and General Manager for nearly 10 years, as well as the team’s head coach for parts of five seasons. He later was the part-owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

Quinn has a long list of achievements and his impact in the hockey world was substantial, which is why the Pat Quinn Classic, an international Bantam hockey tournament in honor of the late Quinn, has commenced in Burnaby, BC.

What the Classic is About

Representatives from the Tournament Board spoke at Rogers Arena Tuesday Morning about the upcoming Pat Quinn Classic from December 27th-30th. The holiday hockey tournament has ran for over 50 years, making it one of the world’s longest-running, but this year it has been revamped and renamed the Pat Quinn Classic to commemorate Quinn.

The Classic this year will have three groups – 12 Bantam AAA Elite teams, 14 Bantam AAA teams and eight Peewee AAA Elite teams. Former Canucks forward Cliff Ronning is the Honorary Tournament Chair, and growing up he played in the annual tournament during his Bantam days – as have other hometown players like Joe Sakic, Glenn Anderson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Ronning talked about how receptive elite level teams have been to participating.

“We’re very fortunate. At first we weren’t sure if we could get the top teams, but once we mentioned it was in honor of Pat Quinn, all of a sudden we were getting the Delta academies, the Yale Academies, the Notre Dame Hounds, teams from Japan. To me that’s the exciting thing is the competition, because that’s what Pat would’ve wanted.

“We have the team from Japan for Peewee – the one young boy that was on YouTube is on the Japanese team that’s very famous from the segment of stick handling and dangling. We have the LA Jr. Kings where Rob Blake is the coach… The list goes on. It’s amazing that it worked out… As a hockey fan, it’s going to be very exciting to go watch this talent that’s going to be playing in Burnaby”, Ronning said.

Ronning, who grew up in Burnaby, spent parts of six seasons with the Canucks from 1990-91 to 1995-96, and was primarily coached by Quinn. The Canucks made the playoffs in all six of those seasons; Ronning totaled 328 points in 366 career games with Vancouver, and sits fifth in team history for playoff goals and assists.

Ronning spoke highly when reminiscing of his time playing for Quinn in Vancouver, who head coached five NHL teams in parts of four decades.

“So many athletes and so many people he’s been a father figure for. He was different from other coaches; you could phone him up in the middle of the night if you were in trouble, or for any information or any advice. He was there for you as a player, and as a person first. That’s just the way he was his whole life.” Ronning said.

Part of the revamp of the Classic this season is raising proceeds for the Pat Quinn Legacy Fund, which was established by the Vancouver Giants earlier this year. Money raised during the Classic for this fund is for providing scholarships to hockey players pursuing legal studies – as on top of a being a player, coach and businessman in his lifetime, Quinn also earned a law degree.

Quinn was a key reason for success the Canucks had for a lot of years, including drafting eventual Canucks’ legends Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure, Vancouver’s 46 wins in 1992-93 – a franchise record at the time, and the team’s Stanley Cup Finals run in 1994. And Quinn’s legacy lives on, thanks to the new recognition from the newly named Pat Quinn Classic.