Message is loud and clear

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn, still irate at his club's 4-3 loss to Phoenix on Saturday, was...

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn, still irate at his club's 4-3 loss to Phoenix on Saturday, was harsh but fair with his players. (Toronto Sun File/Stan Behal)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

DENVER -- We're not sure if Pat Quinn's vocal tirade reached the ears of ailing Maple Leafs Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker and Eric Lindros yesterday.

That's because all three sidelined players did not accompany the team to Denver for the game against the Colorado Avalanche tonight.

But Quinn's angry rant certainly was delivered at a volume level that might have been heard back in Toronto.

Understandably, Quinn is faced with a number of issues that would stress any coach.

There is McCabe's nagging groin injury, which some reports have suggested involves a tear. Quinn insisted that he is uncertain if that is the case.

There is Tucker's rib ailment, one that leaves the team without its most consistent forward.

And there is the wrist injury being nursed by the Big E. While Lindros insists surgery will not be needed, Quinn has not officially been informed of that by the team's medical staff.

In any event, Quinn will accept no excuses from his team in the coming days that they were without three of their top players.

He's too peeved at the sloppy performance turned in against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night, one that resulted in a 4-3 loss.

"You let two (bleeping) guys go by you and you are standing there scratching your (bleeping) heads," he barked, mocking his players by scratching his own head in order to get his point across during practice at the University of Denver.

"I've seen him a lot worse," captain Mats Sundin said, referring to Quinn's outburst. "Pat is always fair. He gives us credit when it's deserved.

"None of us was happy with that game. It was the most disappointing loss of the season. We had a 3-0 lead. They didn't beat us ... we beat ourselves."

For those who watch Quinn yap at the officials during games, the logical conclusion would be that blowups would be a regular thing. But the veteran coach is shrewd at picking his spots, fully aware that players will tune out a guy who constantly is bellowing at them.

"It was a dark building so I thought I had to yell," Quinn said.

"And I wasn't really yelling. I was just stressing what we need to do better."

Without McCabe in the lineup, youngsters Staffan Kronwall and Carlo Colaiacovo will be relied upon against the Avs tonight and the Wild in Minnesota tomorrow. Colaiacovo had two points and a bone-crushing hit versus the Coyotes, but also suffered several defensive lapses.

"Pat is definitely a voice we need to listen to," Colaiacovo said. "Sometimes it takes something like that to get you going."

Quinn said there is no timetable for McCabe's return, although he would like the Leafs blue liner and other sidelined Olympians such as Ed Jovanovski to get in a handful of games before Team Canada leaves for Turin on Feb. 13.

"Otherwise, do you take guys that have been out who say, 'Trust me, I'm ready to go,' as you board the plane?" Quinn said. "It's not a pressing issue now, but it might be."


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