There was a time when Pat Quinn thought he would settle in Oklahoma.
Now, for the first time since 1994, the legendary hockey coach and current senior adviser for the Edmonton Oilers, is back in Oklahoma. He's working with the Oilers' American Hockey League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons.
Quinn arrived in Oklahoma City on Tuesday and watched the Barons' 3-0 win over Lake Erie at the Cox Center. He's expected to attend Friday night's 7:05 game at the Cox Center when the Barons host San Antonio.
Quinn played for the original Central Hockey League's Tulsa Oilers during the 1964-65 season. He decided to stay in the offseason and attend the University of Tulsa.
He returned to Tulsa during the next two offseasons after playing in Memphis and Houston.
After being a late cut in training camp by St. Louis in 1967, the Blues asked Quinn to report to Kansas City.
Quinn had enough of fighting to get to the NHL and decided to return to Tulsa to finish his undergraduate studies and work for Oklahoma Tank Lines, where he'd become good friends with company founder Keith Price.
But Tulsa Oilers owner Ray Miron lured Quinn back to the game.
"I was 24 then, retired, and decided that maybe hockey wasn't going to be it, but Mr. Miron enticed me to play the home games in Tulsa," Quinn said. "That became all the games, and that year we happened to beat Oklahoma City to win the championship. The next year, I was in Toronto.
"It's funny how things work."
Quinn went on to play 606 NHL games as a defenseman. He then became one of the NHL's top coaches, making stops in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton. Quinn guided Philadelphia (1979-80) and Vancouver (1993-94) to the Stanley Cup finals.
In between the Barons' games and practices this week, Quinn has spent some time with Price's sons. They have become close friends and planned on making a trip to Tulsa to see Miron, who reorganized the CHL in 1992.
"It's great to be back," Quinn said. "It's amazing how much this city has changed since I played."
Barons coach Todd Nelson certainly hasn't minded having Quinn around this week.
"It's nice to have a guy with his hockey knowledge and experience around us," Nelson said. "Pat Quinn has a presence to him. Any expertise we can take off of him, we'll listen to him."
Quinn will be with the Barons off and on throughout the season as he works with the coaching staff and the team, primarily the defensemen.
He coached Edmonton last year but was replaced by Tom Renney, who had been Quinn's assistant in both Edmonton and Vancouver. The Oilers are trying to rebuild the proud program with youth.
"I'd like to still be more important to the success of the organization," Quinn said. "They elected to make some changes, and they elected to got with a young team and they wanted to go with a younger staff I think. They asked me to stay on, which I was happy with. I tried that retired life for a couple years and didn't like it.
"Hockey was never a job for me, it was my life."
Still, Quinn said he would like to return to coaching someday "if somebody wants me" to try to win a Stanley Cup.
"It's the only thing I'm missing," Quinn said. "I've been on a championship team as a player, coach or a manager in every possible place you can win. But I don't have a Cup."
Barons vs. San Antonio Rampage
*When: 7:05 tonight
*Where: Cox Center
*Tickets: Available at Cox Center box office. Prices range between $10-$36
*Radio: KXY-FM 96.1
*Scouting report: The game is Oktoberfest Night, with $1 beer and $10 tickets available. The $10 tickets will be available after 5 p.m. at the Cox Center box office. ... Defenseman Jordan Bendfeld, who was with the Barons during training camp and was scratched for several games to start the season, was recalled from Stockton of the Double-A ECHL. Bendfeld played in one game for Stockton. ... San Antonio, like Oklahoma City, is a former Central Hockey League site. The Rampage is the affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes. ... The Barons' Gregory Stewart and Jake Taylor, who have not played recently due to injury, returned to practice this week. ... After tonight's game, the Barons embark on a five-game road trip that includes stops in Toronto, Hamilton (Ontario), Chicago, Grand Rapids (Mich.) and Peoria (Ill.). Oklahoma City's next home game is Nov. 5 against Texas, the affiliate of the Dallas Stars.