Quinn backs buddies

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Pat Quinn was shocked that two of his best friends in the game were suddenly unemployed, but says he was not in the running to rejoin the re-vamped Philadelphia Flyers.

The former Maple Leafs and Flyers coach maintained close ties to fired general manager Bob Clarke and coach Ken Hitchcock, despite years of bad feelings between the clubs, on the ice and off. It was thought Flyers owner Ed Snider might turn to a familiar face such as the 63-year old Quinn when he cashed in Hitchcock. But assistant coach John Stevens has been moved up, while Paul Holmgren will be interim general manager.

"I was not contacted," Quinn said yesterday from Vancouver. "I still feel I can coach, but who knows what could happen."

Quinn was interviewed for the job in Boston that went to Dave Lewis and was considered for an advisor's role with the Dallas Stars until the Leafs expressed concern he might be compromising the 2006- 07 salary the Leafs continue to pay.

It was Clarke who came to his one time coach's defence when the Leafs let Quinn go last spring, charging "he got f----- in Toronto. That was really wrong."

"His goalie (Ed Belfour) was hurt. His centre (Mats Sundin) was hurt. Even with that, his team just missed the playoffs.

"Look at the tradition he had built there, and this is how he gets treated. You look at what (bleeping) happened there and you have to wonder: Who would want to work in Toronto? It's like taking the dog down to the vet. Goodbye."

Leafs' GM John Ferguson fired back, reminding Clarke he had gone through a share of coaches too and telling him to mind his own business.

Quinn and Clarke will likely speak at a later date.

"It's not clear what happened there," Quinn said. "Bob shaped that team as he always has and in my opinion, he's been the model Flyer for a long time.

TOO EARLY

"With Hitch, I just think it was too early (to make such a drastic decision). How many games had they played? Eight? And how many of those were on the road? Six? Now they are at home for a while (and might have got turned around). I just hate to see good coaches get fired."

Stevens has worked with many of the younger Flyers with their Phantoms farm team and Holmgren is a longtime employee of the club. Besides Quinn, names such as Mike Keenan surfaced the past two days.

Clarke will be most remembered by Leaf fans for helping the Flyers beat Toronto in three playoff series in the 1970s, and two of three times as GM. Clarke also delighted in the role of spoiler where Eric Lindros trade rumours with the Leafs were concerned. Even Quinn grew exasperated at times as various trades fell through.

"(Clarke) had a moving target," Quinn said at the time. "You thought you had a deal, then he wanted something else."

Defenceman Tomas Kaberle was a player Clarke coveted from Toronto.


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