Dishing out bad news part of job

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET



 Coach Pat Quinn doesn't relish his role as the bearer of bad news.

 But after determining on Wednesday that both Joe Nieuwendyk and Owen Nolan were not ready for Game 3 (and unlikely for Game 4 tonight as well), Quinn's equally unpleasant duty was telling heart-and- soul forward Tom Fitzgerald he was sitting.

 Few veteran Leafs put in the effort Fitzgerald does at keeping himself ready for whatever the cause asks of him. In Game 3, that was not dressing.

 "It wasn't that he wasn't contributing, it's just that we had a guy (Wade Belak) who might do something a little different," Quinn said. "We had a tough decision, but Tom's a pro and he was ready to step in at any moment. It means sitting out a guy you like, as a person and as a player."

 The fourth-liner had not missed a playoff game and was a healthy scratch just twice during the season.

 "I look at it like I've done everything I've been asked to do," Fitzgerald, 35, said yesterday. "But it was a move that worked and it was a team effort. It was wonderful to watch."

 At this stage, it seems Quinn won't be leaning toward line changes tonight as the injured list remains the same.

 "It's not likely (Nieuwendyk's back spasms) will change," Quinn said.

 Nolan practised again yesterday but waved off reporters, telling them there is no update on his injured knee.

 That left Mikael Renberg, who wasn't setting the playoffs on fire before his hamstring problem flared up. Renberg said doctors have cleared him.


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