Doug Quinn built the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs into the most recognized major midget hockey program in the country — and now he’s stepping down.
He took the Chiefs to five straight Alberta Midget Hockey League and provincial titles. And the Chiefs became just the fourth team in history to win back-to-back Telus Cup national crowns, winning in 2012 and 2013.
But this week Quinn announced he’ll step down as head coach to “take some needed time off.
“I’ve been going at it basically for 12 years and the midgets the last five, which takes about eight months a year,” he said. “I also have so many (business) interests outside of hockey it’s hard to make a commitment to both.
“I need a mental break more than anything. My business interests keep me busy and I find most nights I’m putting together a practice schedule at 11 p.m., just to be organized.”
Quinn, a former captain of the Chiefs, played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League and was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the fifth round (90th overall) in 1983. However, a bad car accident ended any thoughts of playing in the NHL. He went on to play at the University of Calgary and eventually returned to Red Deer to work with Quinn Pumps, which his father, Jim, started.
He got into coaching as an assistant at the 15-year-old level in 2002 and won league tiles at the minor midget AAA level before coaching atom and peewee. In 2009, he was offered the opportunity to take over the Chiefs and the rest is history.
It’s been a great run.
“After the season I sat down and reflected back on all the good things that happened over the last five years,” said the 49-year-old. “I met so many new people and had a great group of coaches, who are friends and a lot of fun to work with. There was the camaraderie and the competition.
“We developed a culture. Look at the players who come back and support the team.”
Quinn enjoyed working with some of the top midget players in the province and had pride in the fact he played a major role in their development.
“Every year we had 14 or 15 players move on to the next level,” he said.
While he worked hard at building the program, he refuses to take all the credit.
“I surrounded myself with good people, who work hard at it. I’ve learned a lot from watching others and I’ve put a lot of effort into learning the game … studying it.”
He also knows he’ll miss it.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’ll coach again at some time, but I do have so many things outside hockey I have to take clean up first. Coaching hockey is something I love to do, in fact I love coaching more than I did playing.”
He could see himself coaching at a higher level.
“Anyone who is competitive loves a challenge and if the right opportunity comes along, I’ll definitely look at it,” he said.
Quinn’s coaching staff of Rob Hamill, Al Parada, Peter Friestadt, Trent Hunter and Mike Moller are also stepping down.
Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission GM Dallas Gaume appreciates what Quinn did for the city and minor hockey.
“Doug did an amazing job,” he said. “He’s such a good coach, no matter what level he coached at. What he did for this program was tremendous, he took it to a new level.”
Now it’s up to Gaume to fill the position.
“We’re in the process of seeing who is interested,” he said. “I’ve talked to a number of people and called some who I think are capable of running the program.
“We’ll get a short list and do interviews. It’s important for us to get this right.”
Gaume said there’s no set deadline to fill the job. While there are big shoes to fill, he doesn’t believe there will be a lot of added pressure.
“As a coach I see it as a great opportunity to step into a strong program with the bar set extremely high already. It doesn’t have to be pressure, but a challenge, a great opportunity.”