With Dan Quinn, there was never any question that he would be a dominant player in the OHL. But as the Bulls’ first ever draft pick first overall in the 1981
midget draft would Quinn become dominant in time to help the expansion Bulls?
As a rookie, Quinn put up solid if unspectacular scoring numbers. He managed just one goal and six points in his first 14 games but then emerged as a bona-fide scorer with 13 goals and 22 points in the next 17 games.
He finished his rookie year with 19 goals and 51 points in 67 games.
“He was going to be a hockey player…”
“He was going to be a hockey player, that was in his mind,” Bulls GM/coach Larry Mavety said. “I think in his first year, he got by on talent alone. He was a very talented hockey player. When he first came in, he was living on being the first
overall pick more than anything else.”
Not satisfied with the results of his rookie year, Quinn went to work in the off-season to add 15 pounds of muscle that would help him compete in every game
during the long season.
“I was brutal at the start of the season and the end of the season,” Quinn admitted to The Intelligencer. “I played pretty well in November and December but that was about it. I saw other players that were drafted early doing better than me and I think that made me put some pressure on myself.”
“Came out flying…”
Quinn came out flying as a sophomore; he led the team with 59 goals and 147 points and was among the finalists for the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s top player.
His breakout season was noticed by the NHL scouts and Calgary Flames took Quinn with their first round pick in the 1983 draft.
He enjoyed an extended stay in Calgary’s training camp the next fall and was leading the OHL in scoring with 59 points games when he was summoned to return to Calgary to replace injured veteran Jim Peplinski.
Quinn picked up an assist in his NHL debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs and scored his first NHL goal two weeks later in a 5-5 tie against the Edmonton Oilers.
In that same game, Bulls’ co-owner Wayne Gretzky scored to extend his point scoring streak to 36 games. Gretzky went on to set a 51-game streak that still stands as an NHL record.
For Quinn, it was the start of an NHL career that lasted more than 800 games.
“He’s smart and clever with the puck,” Flames’ coach Bob Johnson said about Quinn, who was runner-up to Steve Yzerman as the NHL’s rookie of the month that December.
“He’s playing well for an 18-year-old. Actually, he’s playing well period.
Quinn’s situation helped shape the new agreement with the OHL and NHL clubs ability to call up junior-aged players during the season.
Excerpt from 25 Years with the Belleville Bulls (Bell, Aaron 2005)
Intelligencer photo courtesy Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County