A musician, a Hockey Hall of Famer and an Irishman walk into a bar. It almost sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?
Well, when it comes to business matters involving the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants, this isn’t the beginning of a joke as much as it’s business as usual. At least it was until last November, when Giants co-owner and proud Irishman Pat Quinn died at age 71, leaving behind the Hockey Hall of Famer, Gordie Howe, and the musician, Michael Bublé, as remaining Giants co-owners.
“Pat was just a beautiful guy,” Bublé recently told SI.com. “He’s a friend to my family who spent Christmases with us. He would come over and sign things for me and I would sign things for him. It’s emotional just talking about him.”
For the Giants, Quinn’s passing last November didn’t radically alter the team’s day-to-day business model as much as it left an emotional hole in the organization. Because as much as Quinn was known throughout hockey for coaching Canada to Olympic gold in 2002 and as a consistent force behind NHL benches for nearly three decades, he’s remembered as a beloved father figure with the Giants and a demigod in Vancouver, where he led the Canucks to within one win of the Stanley Cup in 1994.
It’s in the spirit of Quinn’s legacy with the Canucks and the Giants that his former co-owners are opening Pat Quinn’s Restaurant & Bar this month in the Vancouver suburb of Tsawwassen.
“We’re involved in other businesses,” Bublé said. “Whether it’s golf courses or the hockey team itself, they’re all businesses. They all need ticket sales and that sort of thing. But I honestly think this isn’t as much about business as it is about paying tribute in as many ways as we could to a guy we loved way too much.
“It’ll be like a West Coast Grill. There will be beautiful steak, great seafood; everything that Pat liked. This guy was a world traveler. He went to the best places. He loved fine cigars and a nice glass of scotch or wine with a great steak in a great atmosphere, so this is not going to be a typical sports bar-type of place.”
As much as the size of Bublé and Gordie Howe’s names being associated with the opening of "Pat Quinn’s Restaurant & Bar" will generate publicity in Vancouver, Bublé insists that most of the credit for the restaurant’s concept belongs to the Giants’ primary owner, Ron Toigo. It’s also Toigo who Buble gives credit for bringing himself, Quinn and Howe together as co-owners to begin with following a dinner function that Bublé sang at a decade ago with Quinn and Howe in attendance.
“Meeting Gordie at first was a little bit scary,” Bublé said. “He’s a hockey God and a Canadian icon. The first picture we ever did together, just before they took the picture, he took his massive hand and grabbed my left shoulder just as the picture was about to be taken and pulled my head into his elbow. He had to be close to 80 years old and this man still had so much power. He could still throw you like a rag doll and that was the truth. Just pure power, while being the kindest, gentlest guy.
“Both of those gentlemen are so classy: Pat Quinn and Gordie Howe, their names should be in the dictionary next to the word ‘class.’ Pat was just a winner in every single way, not just hockey. It feels terrible to say ‘was’ when talking about Pat. It’s still almost unbearable to think of it that way.
“For us, it just means a hell of a lot to try do something that would have been up to Pat’s standards and would have made Pat proud.”