Maple Leafs fire Quinn after missing playoffs

Updated: April 20, 2006, 6:20 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Pat Quinn missed the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons as Maple Leafs coach.

Apparently that was enough to get him fired.

Scott Burnside's take
[Pat Quinn] follows former Los Angeles Kings GM Dave Taylor off the ledge in the hours that have passed since the end of the regular season Tuesday night. More will follow.

But out of all of them, the Quinn firing will rank as the most distasteful and shameful on a number of fronts.

To read more of Scott Burnside's column, click here.

More coverage:
Burnside: Others on hot seat
Melrose: Victim of circumstance

Quinn was let go Thursday, two days after Toronto's season ended without a postseason bid. The 63-year-old Quinn, who had one year remaining on his contract, missed the playoffs for only the second time in his stellar 19-year coaching career.

Longtime assistant Rick Ley was also fired.

"We did not achieve a chance to compete for the Cup," said general manager John Ferguson, whose Original Six club hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1967.

Ferguson declined to answer when asked whether Quinn would have kept his job had the Leafs made the playoffs. A late-season surge got Toronto back into contention but it was eliminated in the final days of the season.

Quinn served as general manager of the Maple Leafs before Ferguson replaced him in that role in 2003.

Ferguson is expected to name Paul Maurice -- who coached Toronto's minor-league affiliate in the AHL this season -- as the new coach, but he said he'll consider other candidates. Maurice last coached in the NHL with Carolina.

"We certainly have a proven, capable, successful NHL head coach as our head coach in the American Hockey League," Ferguson said. "Paul is an obvious prime candidate."

Ferguson wants a coach who will give younger players a more prominent role. Quinn was criticized for sticking with veterans who couldn't adapt to the quicker, new NHL.

"We're going to be quicker," Ferguson said. "We're going to rely on players who continue to improve. We'll have a new coach to lead us in that direction."

Overall, Quinn went 300-222-52 with 26 shootout and overtime losses as Leafs coach, twice leading Toronto to the Eastern Conference finals, losing to Buffalo in 1998-99 and Carolina in 2001-02.

He's fourth all-time in coaching victories with 657 behind Scotty Bowman (1,244), Al Arbour (781) and Dick Irvin (692).

He never won a Stanley Cup as a coach although he led the 1980 Philadelphia Flyers and '94 Vancouver Canucks to the finals.

He is perhaps best known for coaching Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2002.

"He has represented this organization in a first-class manner for many years," Ferguson said.

Ferguson dismissed reports he and Quinn had been locked in a power struggle.

Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said Ferguson isn't in danger of losing his job, but they won't extend his contract this summer even though he only has one year left on it.

"Not everything he's done has worked out as well as we hoped, but there's been some great progress. I think he's got a lot of upside," Peddie said. "John has got a steeper learning curve than maybe some veterans would have, but he doesn't have much slack from the media or management."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press