The main difference between Quinn, a self-proclaimed "teaching coach," and his predecessors has to do not with X's and O's but with sun and surf. Quinn is the first L.A. coach to try to debunk the myth that you can't play hockey in Beach Boys country. "That's a crock. It's a crutch for a losing team," he says. Long gone is the old rule calling for a $500 fine if a King gets sunburned. In its place is the philosophy that "this is a nice climate and there's no reason not to enjoy it, as long as you're professional enough to get your game face on when it counts. Let it be a distraction for the teams coming in from the cold and the snow."
Though he almost always has his game face on, Dionne, who ranks fourth on the NHL's alltime goal-scoring list, has been frustrated in L.A., where he has performed brilliantly for teams that have gone nowhere. "The last two years you won for no reason and you lost for no reason," says Dionne. "Now if we win, maybe we reach the playoffs, and if we lose we learn from it." Dionne, a notorious one-way player, has learned from Quinn how to work at both ends of the ice. "Marcel's coming back deeper and helping out more in our zone," says Quinn, "and he's still getting his points." But Dionne would get his points if he were performing with the Belmonts. The difference is that this season those points are winning hockey games, and those wins are drawing fans.
"Marcel's like our fans. He sees the light," says Vachon, who, so far, has been shining it.