Quinn may be in mix for vacant L.A. job

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Pat Quinn seems more Boston than Hollywood.

Any town that calls one of its pro sports team the Celtics must have a soft spot for a hulking Irish-Canadian who has been known to chug a brew or two in his time.

As for Californians, well, they like to sip their $50 bottles of sparkling water, slick back their hair and get spiffed up in their pinstriped suits.

Sounds more a fit for John Ferguson, doesn't it?

At least the hair part, anyway.

But it is Quinn that is said to be garnering some initial interest from Los Angeles way -- specifically, from the incoming braintrust of the Kings.

According to NHL sources, Quinn, who coached in L.A. from 1984-87, will receive consideration for the Kings' vacant head coaching position from the new management team led by general manager Dean Lombardi, who was introduced to the Los Angeles media yesterday.

It certainly didn't take long for Quinn to start getting a few sniffs around the league, did it?

The former Leafs coach was out of work for exactly 24 hours and the speculation already started.

Is there anything to it? Will anything come of it? It's far too early to predict. We don't even know if he wants to coach again, right away.

The only sure thing concerning Quinn is that he'll be the subject of many such rumours in the coming months.

And it's easy to see why.

Only twice has he failed to guide an NHL team to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, one of those occasions occurred this season with the Leafs.

And it cost him his job.

The man who dropped the axe on Quinn was, of course, Ferguson, who was asked last night if he was surprised that Quinn's name already is being bandied about.

"Not at all," Ferguson said. "I wish him nothing but the best."

A day after being grilled by a relentless Toronto media -- some of whom felt Ferguson should have taken the fall -- the Leafs general manager looked relatively unscathed yesterday.

It was noted by a Toronto scribe that thankfully there were no teethmarks on his neck, despite all the attempts by reporters to bite his head off Thursday.

Ferguson actually flashed a rare smile at that quip.

Talk about a Kodak moment.

Ferguson, Leafs scouting coordinator Reid Mitchell and Marlies general manager Mike Penny arrived in Grand Rapids yesterday afternoon in a relatively upbeat mood.

No wonder.

They flew from Toronto.

They didn't have to endure the six-hour bus trip that Paul Maurice, everyone's consensus choice to replace Quinn, was forced to sit through.

But give Maurice credit. Throughout the media circus of the past 24 hours, the grilling from the media about the logical move up to the Leafs and a lengthy ride through the American heartland, he continues to take the high road.

The Marlies, he insists, are his only concern. Beating the Grand Rapids Griffins in this best-of-seven AHL North Division semi-final remains his sole focus.

Despite finishing some 23 points behind the Griffins in the regular season, the Marlies mirrored the intensity of their veteran coach last night. With goalie Jean Sebastien Aubin turning aside 57 shots, the Marlies stretched the hosts to a third overtime period before Jiri Hudler gave Grand Rapids the 6-5 victory in the opener of the series, which resumes here tonight.

Afterward Maurice looked as exhausted as his players.

"This shirt is a bit wet," he said after watching more than 102 minutes of hockey.

"This was tough. We're not just here to compete, we're here to win."

With a disappointing crowd of 3,506 on hand here last night, Maurice must have felt as if he was back coaching the Carolina Hurricanes when they played their home games in a near-empty Greensboro Coliseum.

Should things play out as most are predicting, he will have a much larger audience while strolling behind the home bench at the Air Canada Centre next season.

The question is, will he peer over at the visitors bench one night and see Quinn huffing and puffing over there?

It will be fun to see how it all plays out.


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