Reason for concern

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Pat Quinn worries about the negative impact the NHL lockout has had on the game and hates to think what effect an extended break into next season would have.

"From the damage standpoint, I don't think we should have been this far," the Maple Leafs coach said. "I don't think we can go very much further. We can, but should we? Not at all.

"If we don't get a deal done, we will start to see other people in our industry hurt badly -- the coaches, the trainers, the scouts. The players are already hurt."

Quinn, who was at the Canadian Hockey League awards luncheon here at the Memorial Cup yesterday, confirmed his contract "has been effectively done for a long time" and is ready to be signed when it's clear NHL hockey will resume. Leafs general manager John Ferguson yesterday agreed that's the case. It's believed to be a two-year extension.

After a winter of inactivity -- he has golfed a bit and has spent time at his homes in Toronto and Vancouver -- Quinn still is finding it difficult to wrap his head around the fact the NHL season didn't happen.

"The life I have had the pleasure of living as far as being involved in this sport and the NHL, when you have the opportunity to work, you want to work," said Quinn, who turned 62 in January. "A frustrating part is that you are almost practising retirement skills and you don't have them yet. Mentally I am not ready for it. We were ready to roll, and all of a sudden it is not there. It has been very empty."

Quinn acknowledged he didn't think the lockout would last much past the World Cup of Hockey last September. Not unlike many people directly involved with the NHL, Quinn said he has been kept in the dark regarding negotiations between the NHL and NHL Players' Association.

"I thought there was going to be a surprise," Quinn said. "I thought the rhetoric (between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA union boss Bob Goodenow) was so fierce, they really got something done. Well, I was wrong.

"It has been lousy. It's not a good time."

Meanwhile, Ferguson said he has "talked to some people" regarding the coaching vacancy with the club's AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Names bandied about have included Kitchener Rangers coach Peter DeBoer and Mississauga IceDogs coach Greg Gilbert.


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