No sour grapes for Quinn

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- If Pat Quinn becomes the scapegoat for the poor showing of the Maple Leafs this season, he'll leave with a few regrets and mostly happy memories.

"You know what?" he asked after putting the Leafs through a light, brief workout yesterday. "My time here has been probably as good a time as I have had in my hockey life."

As speculation swirls concerning his future, Quinn was asked to reflect on his tenure with the Leafs.

"All this intrigue and everything that has been going around, we weren't touched by that," he said. "We knew what we were doing all the time. (To us) that was kind of a sense of someone out there seeing things that weren't affecting the team.

"You remember two or three years ago, you used to hear, 'dysfunctional this and that?' It wasn't dysfunctional at all. We knew exactly where we were going. We knew exactly what we were doing.

"We were trying to put the best team on the ice to win a Cup and we thought we had it a couple of times. We didn't do it but ...

"All of these times were very pleasurable and rewarding -- not the ultimate reward because we didn't win it. That's the one you always want.

"But I don't look back with any sour grapes at all."

Questions of this nature are put to Quinn because of the speculation about his future. He is as aware of that speculation as anyone, but until his status changes he's still the head coach, trying to make sure that outside forces don't affect his performance.

"I can only pay attention to what the process is now," he said. "I tell the players that every day. This is a process. You've got to work and sacrifice. The results come only if you pay attention to that and do the best you can there.

"You try to focus on things you have some control over, and so the job for me is to come to work every day to try to help these guys be good players and the team be a good team.

"We've struggled. There's no question about that. I mean that's what the record shows, but my concern is still where it should be I think -- with the players

"It's not about looking forward. It's about today and the record today and where we are. We're struggling to try to win some games and hopefully we can. Until its over, its not over."

The same can be said of Quinn's tenure as coach. It's possible that the media have jumped the gun in their assumption that he'll be fired after the season.

There is definitely a power struggle under way between Quinn and general manager John Ferguson Jr., but the winner has yet to be determined.

The eventual outcome is not a matter that Quinn wishes to ponder publicly.

"Whatever happens down the way is going to happen," he said. "I'm not going to lose my sense of priority dreaming or thinking about some other things.

Moments earlier, in the adjacent dressing room, captain Mats Sundin had expressed his frustration at the way the Leafs season unfolded. Quinn understood perfectly.

"Sure," Quinn said. "When we started out, in spite of a lot of people predicting that we wouldn't be very good, we thought we were going to be pretty good and we strived to do that.

"When you're not getting the results you believe you could have had, then it is frustrating. There's no two ways about it.

"We're not here just for a lark. We're here to win and try to win a Cup. That's what we all start out to do.

"When that's not coming to fruition the way you would plan it or dream about it or work toward, then you bet it's frustrating for a competitor like him.

"That's for sure."

It's just as frustrating for a competitor like Quinn. But at least his frustration has been tempered by some happy memories.


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