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Quinn Bonus Defended as 'Common Business'

October 08, 1987

Pat Quinn, then a rival hockey coach, was paid $100,000 as "a matter of ordinary, common business practice," according to owner Frank Griffiths of the Vancouver Canucks.

Griffiths, on the opening day of testimony in the Canucks' civil suit against the National Hockey League, said the midseason payment was merely a signing bonus to seal a contract making Quinn, then coach of the Kings, president and general manager of the Canucks.

"It's the water that goes into the cement so that it casts up hard," Griffiths said.

The trial has grown out of NHL President John Ziegler's Jan. 30 decision to impose a $310,000 fine on the Canucks for signing Quinn in late 1986 while he was still coaching Los Angeles. Ziegler also fined the Kings $110,000, and Quinn was barred from coaching in the NHL until the 1990-91 season.

Ziegler ruled the Canucks' actions "dishonorable and prejudicial" to the league.

The Canucks have asked the British Columbia Supreme Court to overturn Ziegler's ruling and declare their actions honorable. They are not seeking damages, only court costs.

Griffiths told the court he had been desperate since 1984 to hire new management because of the Canucks' chronically poor performance. He recalled how Coach Dave King of the Canadian national team had backed out of a deal in 1985, a day after the Canucks had publicly announced his signing.

Griffiths, stressing he never considered his actions to be dishonorable, said the experience with King was on his mind when he decided to give Quinn the signing bonus.

NHL attorney Rees Brock said Griffiths made a huge mistake in judgment by "dealing with the head coach of your archrival during the midseason."

Brock said that public perception of competition and integrity in the NHL was shattered by the deal.

Quinn, who is not party to the suit, took the stand late in the afternoon, saying that Vancouver management pressured him into signing and gave him three days to come to terms.

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