Ask anyone in Toronto and they'll remember Pat Quinn.
Whether it was for drastically improving the beleaguered Leafs and taking them to two Conference Finals appearances, his trademark wad of gum behind the bench, his fiery Irish attitude, or how he took on both the GM's and Head Coach's role in T.O., someone has a story—enjoyable or otherwise (The otherwise usually revolving around a trade he made)—about Pat Quinn.
If you're a Bruins fan, you remember him as the man who tried to knock Bobby Orr's block off with his elbow in the '69 Cup Finals, but that's another story.
But what some people may not have known about Quinn, was that his health caught up to him in 2002 during a Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup run, forcing him to step down from the bench for a period of time.
I was recently granted the opportunity—much in part to Zander Freund—to sit down with the man of 657 career NHL victories behind the bench to talk about his health, his new movement (called Making the Connection) to help people become more aware of the dangers of high cholesterol, and a little bit of hockey.
Bryan Thiel: Pat I'd really like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk with you.
Now, back in 2002 during one of the Maple Leafs' more notable playoff runs, you were hospitalized with heart arrhythmia. How did that scare affect your mentality about living a healthy lifestyle, and what changes did you make to the way you lived your life?
Pat Quinn: That incident scared me a lot and that's why I am so adament that Canadians take the first steps towards Cardiovascular health. I thought I was invincible, that I could eat and drink and take in calories the same way after I finished playing. In 2002 I really think that Leaf team had a chance to win a cup and my problems were a distraction because I just wasn't taking care of myself.
After that scare I quit smoking cigars, and really began to watch my weight and walked everyday which is something I continue to do now. I als got regular checks on my cholesterol levels and now that is something I watch very carefully. I feel better! www.makingtheconnection.ca can be the first step for a lot of people to begin taking better care of their hearts.
BT: On the 'Making the Connection' website, one of the key features that's presented to the public is the ability to register with the site, and receive a "Personalized Five-Step Plan". Could you explain the plan a bit and highlight some of the lifestyle changes it may center on?
PQ: The highlight for me was getting my "cardiovascular age". I am 65 but my heart is 58, and that shows that I've turned things around by doing the things I already mentioned.
BT: Here at Bleacher Report, we have a vast majority of readers coming from all ages and walks of life. What are some signs of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease that some of our older (and younger for that matter) readers should be on the watch for? Is there anything that our readers can do to prevent or aid in the prevention or lessening the risk of high cholesterol?
PQ: Lots of doctors and others refer to cholesterol as the "silent killer". It's really hard to tell physically if there is a problem. The best advice is to go to your family doctor and insist that you be checked out!
BT: Now, if I didn't try and talk a bit of hockey with you, I wouldn't be doing my job very well. With the World Junior Tournament fast approaching, can you speak to some of the strengths of Team Canada?
PQ: Ha ha ha, I wouldn't expect anything less. The answer to that question is simply I don't know. One thing I do know is that we will be talented, but the type of team we are will dictate how we play.
Canadians play with pride and anytime you pull that Team Canada sweater on there is pressure and expectation to win gold. We want nothing less than that and playing at home will be tremendous pressure on these boys. That's something we'll focus on the right way as we put our team together.
BT: And a pretty easy question to wrap up on: Will we ever see Pat Quinn behind an NHL bench again?
PQ: It is no secret I want to be back behind an NHL bench but boy I'm excited about coaching the Canadian Juniors. We'll see what happens in January!
Now there are a few things I'd like to do here. Number one, I'd like to once again thank Pat for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about Making the Connection and his own struggles with high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
Number two, I'd like to wish Pat the best of luck this winter with the Canadian World Junior team (Here's hoping it takes him back to the NHL), and number three I implore all of you, young or old, to check the website out.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan, you can do so through his profile, while you can also check out his previous work in his archives.
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