Quinn on hot seat?

If there's another humiliating loss to the Ottawa Senators tonight, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat...

If there's another humiliating loss to the Ottawa Senators tonight, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn really will be under the gun. (Toronto Sun/David Lucas)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

OTTAWA -- John Ferguson sat in the last row of the lower bowl at Scotiabank Place, watching as coach Pat Quinn guided the Maple Leafs through a mid-afternoon practice.

Whether Ferguson was entertaining any thought of making a coaching change, though, is something only he knows.

When he later met with a group of reporters outside the Leafs dressing room, the club's general manager was asked several times about Quinn's status in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the longest for the team since a seven-game skid in January 1997.

"We are not looking at any development in that regard," Ferguson said yesterday when he was asked whether Quinn's job was safe. "We are looking at ways to get this club playing the way it can.

"Pat's situation has not changed and certainly it is not a situation I have broached. But we understand what we are dealing with and we have a group that needs to respond and we have a challenge here (tonight). We are going to look at that game and those that are going forward."

When it was suggested to Ferguson that he had not said he will not fire Quinn, he said: "Pat is our coach, his record speaks for itself and that record remains four games over .500 right now. There are lots of ways we can find to make this club better."

Now in his seventh season behind the Leafs bench, Quinn signed a two-year extension last summer. Ferguson is correct -- Quinn's record speaks for itself. And that record includes three consecutive embarrassing losses to the Ottawa Senators, including a 7-0 drubbing on Saturday night. That dropped the Leafs to ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Atlanta Thrashers for the eighth and final post-season berth.

The Leafs and Senators will finish a rare two-games-in-one-city set tonight and a fourth brutal showing in a row against Ottawa would be further disastrous for the players' collective psyche. One could surmise it would be a challenge for Ferguson to remain idle in any regard, whether it be with coaches or players, before the Leafs play host to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

There has been the idea that Quinn has lost the dressing room, yet just a few weeks back the Leafs won six in a row. Quinn knows the queries about his status are on the front-burner, but it does not mean he has to like them.

"Coaches lose their jobs once in a while and as far as losing the room, I don't buy that," Quinn said. "In (five) games, suddenly the world has fallen down and (we) get you guys asking questions like this. In my opinion it is ridiculous, but the fact is we have to find a way to win some games. That is the nature of this business and we're all trying to do that."


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