There are plenty of volunteers willing to kick Pat Quinn while he's down, but don't count Larry Tanenbaum among them.
With his Maple Leafs mired in a six-game losing funk, the embattled coach yesterday received a vote of confidence from Tanenbaum, chairman of the board of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, Ltd.
"Our coach has our full backing," Tanenbaum said last night. "We have tremendous confidence in Pat. We have complete faith in him."
Speculation concerning Quinn's job status snowballed after the Leafs were humiliated 7-0 by the rival Ottawa Senators on Saturday. The one-sided embarrassment spawned numerous suggestions that the veteran coach might be fired should the skid continue.
But Tanenbaum was quick to nip such rumours in the bud, pointing out that the subject was not even broached during a board meeting last week.
In the event that general manager John Ferguson wanted to relieve Quinn of his duties, he would have to make that recommendation to the board.
Quinn's Leafs never have missed the playoffs since he stepped behind the bench in 1998.
"(Such innuendo) is absolutely premature," Tanenbaum said, referring to scuttlebutt of Quinn's possible dismissal. "None of us in the organization are even focussing on that issue.
"Pat's track record here speaks for itself. He is an integral part of our championship vision."
Cynics often point out that whenever a coach receives such an endorsement from ownership, it is a sure sign that he will be axed in the near future.
But Tanenbaum feels there is no need for management to have a knee-jerk reaction, especially with almost three months remaining in the 2005-06 campaign.
"If you ask me if I am concerned, sure, a little bit," he said. "But there is absolutely no reason we should panic because there are 82-plus games in a season.
"There is still a long way to go. All I can say is, you have to look at the big picture.
"Every team has injuries. Between Bryan (McCabe), Darcy (Tucker) and Eric (Lindros) being out, those are significant players out of our lineup."
Tanenbaum also took time out to address accusations that MLSEL only is concerned with stockpiling profits while making any Stanley Cup aspirations a mere afterthought.
"I can assure you that we have the utmost passion to win," he said. "It has been far too long since the Cup has been in Toronto. It has been in far too many other cities.
"Is there also the discipline of running a business involved? Of course. But there also is a huge passion for the team. Just look at the individuals on the board. We are all exuberant over wins and disappointed with the losses.
"I'm the chairman of the board but I also consider myself the No. 1 fan," Tanenbaum said.