VANCOUVER — The Kings and coach-in-limbo Pat Quinn rang out the old season here Sunday night. Vancouver's Canucks, the team that Quinn will run beginning June 1, soundly beat the team he was suspended from coaching, 5-2.
Quinn watched it all from the Canucks' owners box, high above the ice.
That strange piece happens to fit rather nicely into the puzzle of the Kings' regular season, which ended in the Pacific Coliseum with another trouncing at the hands of the Canucks before a crowd of 9,124.
The Kings are 31-41-8 and the Canucks 29-43-8.
Quinn was suspended from coaching the Kings Jan. 10 and eventually expelled from the league for signing a contract to become president and general manager of the Canucks next season.
There is irony, too, in that the Kings begin a new season this week against Edmonton in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, while the Canucks' new beginning will come when the dynamic Quinn takes over in two months.
Vancouver has been the puzzle the Kings couldn't solve this season. The Canucks won the series, 5-2-1. Their play at the end of the season won them grudging respect, too.
While it appeared the Kings would cruise into the playoffs, leaving behind the Canucks, who have held fifth place in a stranglehold all season, Vancouver instead surged. The team has played .500 hockey the last 40 games, going 18-18-4.
And, while the Canucks aren't in the playoffs, they are no longer the worst team in the league. Their 66 points put them within four points of beating the Kings into the playoffs.
Now, the Kings have the task of playing the Oilers, the best team in hockey. The Canucks end their season with some measure of respect and can look forward, with Quinn, to building on that.
As far as the game went, it was remarkable chiefly in its brevity and lack of fisticuffs. There is no team in the league that brings out the anger in the Kings as do their colleagues to the North.
For their part, the Canucks revel in their mastery over the Kings.
The Canucks were dominating from the outset and scored two quick goals in the first period, much as Edmonton had done to the Kings Saturday night.
Rich Sutter threaded the King defense for Vancouver's first goal at 4:07, and Petri Skriko scored when his backhanded shot caromed off Steve Duchesne's skate and past King goaltender Darren Eliot.
The Canucks built on that 2-0 first-period lead by adding three goals in the second. The Kings had one.
Goals by Jim Sandlak and Sutter gave the Canucks a 4-0 lead before the Kings scored at 15:30. That came on a power play, a goal set up by Bernie Nicholls and scored by Bryan Erickson.
Tony Tanti's goal at 16:06 gave the Canucks a 5-1 lead at the end of the second period.
Bob Carpenter scored his second goal as King in the third period.
Again, a few veteran players had the night off, variously suffering from what King Coach Mike Murphy has described as "nagging injuries." Not dressed Sunday night were defensemen Tom Laidlaw and Mark Hardy as well as forwards Dave Taylor and Phil Sykes. . . . Defenseman Dave Langevin, who had missed 16 games after arthroscopic surgery to his left knee, returned to the lineup Sunday.