King Coach Pat Quinn was acting within his legal rights when he signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks while still under contract to the Kings, Quinn's attorney told The Times Sunday. Furthermore, attorney Morris Chucas said, the Kings were aware of Quinn's right to do so, since it was provided for in his contract, and even discussed when Quinn signed with the Kings 2 1/2 years ago.
Chucas, who has negotiated all of Quinn's professional contracts, echoed what Quinn has maintained that, when the facts are known, both Quinn and the Canucks will be cleared.
"Pat, under his contract with the Los Angeles Kings, had a legal right to do what he did," Chucas said from his Cherry Hill, N.J., home.
"Not only did he have a right to do what he did, the Kings knew he had that right. Furthermore, 2 1/2 years ago, when we were negotiating the contract, (all) the representatives sat around and virtually said, 'This could happen.' This is not something that we snuck up on and did. They knew he had the right."
News from another front surfaced Sunday. Frank Griffiths, majority owner of the Canucks, told the Associated Press that Quinn was paid a $100,000 bonus to sign a contract to become the president and general manager of the Canucks next season.
Griffiths said that Quinn was paid the money after he signed a contract on Dec. 24. Chucas would not comment on the money but did say that, "Frank Griffiths is not incorrect."
Quinn, who was expelled from the league last Friday pending an investigation into conflict-of-interest charges, is in the last year of a three-year contract with the Kings.
Griffiths said that Quinn's contract with the Kings includes an option under which the team had to make him an offer concerning a renewal by the end of September 1986. If the Kings and Quinn failed to come to terms by the deadline, Quinn was free to negotiate with any team.
No proposal was made and, after two months, both parties were discussing the job.
Chucas said that clause was one Quinn had asked for to balance the Kings' request for a three-year option to be exercised at their discretion. The option clause is thought to be similar to the one the Kings allowed Dave (Tiger) Williams.
Quinn's option deadline was more likely sometime in December, or six months before the termination of his contract with the Kings. Chucas said that the six-month notice was to allow Quinn a chance to plan his future, if it was not going to be with the Kings.
King General Manager Rogie Vachon said that he and Quinn had met earlier this season to discuss Quinn's contract. "Everybody knew we were renegotiating his contract," Vachon said. Vachon would not comment on whether there was an option-clause deadline in Quinn's contract, nor why the Kings apparently let the deadline pass.
It is thought that Quinn had preferred to wait until the end of the season to complete the deal with Vancouver, but the Canucks wanted to fill the job before June, forcing Quinn to make the decision.
Still another rumor surfaced Sunday night when an Edmonton television station reported that Butch Goring would be named the head coach of the Kings.
The station quoted sources in Los Angeles in broadcasting the report.
Goring, an NHL player for 14 years, quit Sunday--just two days after he received an offer to play with the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers called up Goring, 37, after he finished a brief trial with the Nova Scotia Oilers of the American Hockey League.
Goring is a former King who was popular with both the players and fans here.
"Somebody just put two and two together," Vachon said Sunday night. "I haven't spoken to Butch or any of his representatives. We haven't gotten that far. We're still trying to get through this matter (with Quinn)."
Goring went to Nova Scotia after an 18-month layoff as a player. He had been hired as coach of the Boston Bruins in 1985 and was fired last November.
"Sure, I'd like to coach in the NHL again, but I've had no contact with any team," Goring told the Associated Press from his Boston home Sunday night.
For the moment, at least, assistant Mike Murphy will be coaching the Kings until the matter is settled.
Griffiths said that the Canucks began negotiating with Quinn "towards the end of the year."
"The deal was concluded and signed on Dec. 24, and Pat went to L.A. and immediately informed Rogie Vachon that he had committed himself to Vancouver and that he would be leaving.
"I understand (Kings' owner Jerry) Buss was away fishing or some such thing at the time. But now they are making out that they had no knowledge of the situation. Which isn't the case, I'm assured. There was a short time over the past two or three days when I had my doubts about whether Pat had informed them, but now I'm certain he did.
"After he told them, they went on for two weeks as though nothing had happened. It was at that time that we made the signing bonus payment."