February 16, 2012

The Night Pat Quinn Knocked Out Bobby Orr

Normally a 10-0 blowout playoff victory hardly ranks as memorable. But April 2, 1969 is a night that Bobby Orr, Pat Quinn and the players and fans who witnessed the night will never forget. Neither will Don Cherry, who brings this night up on an irregular basis on Coaches Corner.

On that night, the intense dislike between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs reached its peak. By the end of the night the Bruins had a strangle-hold on the playoff series, Forbes Kennedy set NHL records for penalty minutes in several categories, Bobby Orr had a concussion and the still unknown Pat Quinn was introduced as hockey's newest villain.

Quinn, a big and aggressive blueliner still trying to establish himself in the NHL, was no stranger to the "gallery gods" of Boston Gardens. They had been calling for his head since late in the regular season when the much bigger Quinn and Bruins superstar Bobby Orr got involved in a heated after-the-whistle exchange. The resulting dog-pile never settled the issue, leaving the conclusion to be written at a later date.

That date proved to be a few weeks later in the playoffs. The game itself was no contest, as the Bruins had a 6-0 lead late in the second period. That's when Quinn caught Orr by surprise.

Orr was breaking out of Bruins territory with his head uncharacteristically down. Quinn showed a great read on the play, and pinched in at the blue line to hold the zone. Quinn slammed hard in to the unsuspecting Orr, scoring a clear knockout. Orr left the ice with a concussion, but played the next game despite complaining of pounding headaches.

The grainy video evidence of the hit is inconclusive at best, but many, outside of Boston anyways, believe the hit was clean. Quinn was assessed a 5 minute major for elbowing on the play, but ultimately referee John Ashley was penalizing him for hitting the game's greatest player, or at least for causing the resulting donnybrook. Forbes Kennedy, playing in what proved to be his last game, was front and center in the aftermath of the hit. When all was said and done he had set NHL records for most penalties in a game (8), most minutes (38 - since bettered), most penalties in a period (6) and most penalty minutes in a period (34). He was also suspended for three games, reportedly for punching a linesman en route to the locker room.

The Boston fans even tried to get in on the act. Quinn had to be escorted from the penalty box because some of the fans began hitting him. Garbage rained down in Quinn's direction. Finally police were brought in to safely escort Quinn to the dressing room.

6 comments:

The Sports Scott said...

Amazing post. I've got to get this blog of my own up with tones of details to the lead up and even my own meeting of Quinn!

Bruce said...

I was in high school at the time and was listening to the game on the radio. I'll never forget the entire Boston Garden all yellin "GET QUINN GET QUINN" over and over. From watching the highlights the next day, Pat had a beer dumped over his head and then the glass on the back side of the penalty box was shattered. Pat jumped back on the ice and was escorted out for his own safety.

Manny Z said...

Oh WOW! you know, if it wasn't for the net, I never would have seen this ever again. At the age of 13, I remember watching this game April 2, 1969! The year man landed on the moon the first time, so what a year, and this would have been just another game if it wasn't the way Pat Quinn clocked Bobby Orr. Back in the day Pat Quinn was a "BIG" boy, and it was clear that Quinn was coming in FAST (with his right arm) as Orr was looking down at the puck. He didn't even see it coming, and that would be a defining moment in Pat Quinn's career. Wish I can find the video.

Manny Z said...

Oh WOW! you know, if it wasn't for the net, I never would have seen this ever again. I remember watching this game April 2, 1969! The year man landed on the moon the first time, so what a year, and this would have been just another game if it wasn't the way Pat Quinn clocked Bobby Orr. Back in the day Pat Quinn was a "BIG" boy, and it was clear that Quinn was coming in FAST (with his right arm) as Orr was looking down at the puck. He didn't even see it coming, and that would be a defining moment in Pat Quinn's career. Wish I can find the video.

Anonymous said...

Here is the video for those of you looking for it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UWpW-Z3BmY

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace Pat. We got into the playoffs back then with you at the helm.

Condolences to the whole Quinn family. May Pat's memory be an inspiration and a blessing to all who loved him and cherished his presence on and off the ice.

Go Leafs Go ... in his memory.

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