Leafs call it a day

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

A nearly perfect record down the stretch and the establishment of a club mark for most home wins in a season did little to soothe the Maple Leafs last night.

And in the next few days, the hockey world should come to know whether it was enough to save some jobs or if Pat Quinn has coached his last game for Toronto.

The Leafs, 9-1-2 in their final 12 games, beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 last night at the Air Canada Centre in their 2005-06 finale.

But they are out of the playoffs for the first time since 1997-98, even though they were eight games over .500 and won 26 games at home, the most in Maple Leafs' history.

"My plan is to proceed as normal, meet with the players, decide on how we can get better," Quinn said.

"We did a lot of good stuff this year, but it is hard now because you feel so rotten. You feel worse about it now because we are not even going to the first round of the dance."

Quinn, who has done so rarely in the past, shook hands with members of the media after his post-game scrum and thanked many.

Whether it was a sign he knows general manager John Ferguson may soon give him the axe could become clear quickly. Few predicted the Leafs would make the playoffs, but there are many questions surrounding the status of the big names with the team, including Ferguson, Quinn and some of the players.

Captain Mats Sundin, who again was magnificent last night with two goals and two assists, has a year left on his contract. Does he expect to be at Leafs camp in the fall?

"I hope so," said Sundin, who had 17 points in the final eight games. "That is what I am planning on doing."

What about Quinn, who also has a year left on his deal?

"I think when it comes to the team there is only so much a coach can do," Sundin said. "We have been a competitive team for the whole year except for a month. I wish we could have played like this earlier on. We're all in the same boat. We have not got the results and when that happens, a lot of times there are changes."

Another big question for the Leafs is whether defenceman Bryan McCabe is resigned. Set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, McCabe had 19 goals and 49 assists but his offence dried up in the last weeks. The thinking is he wants at least $5 million US a season.

"I don't look at it that way," McCabe said when asked if it was his last game as a Leaf. "The summer will tell. I'm at the age (30) where I would like a long-term deal."

Jeremy Williams, in his first NHL game, John Pohl and Darcy Tucker also scored for the Leafs.

Sidney Crosby, Colby Armstrong and Ryan Malone scored for Pittsburgh.

One can argue there are many reasons why the Leafs won't play for the Stanley Cup, but for Quinn, one stood out. They had just 15 road wins, their fewest under Quinn.

"I don't think we competed hard enough on the road," Quinn said.

"If our road record was a little bit different, we'd be comfortably in the playoffs."


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