Peddie: Heat on GM

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Pat Quinn always felt comfortable speaking in the Air Canada Centre media room, but it was a hot box yesterday for the two men who presided over his firing.

From the same podium where Quinn gave a thousand press conferences, general manager John Ferguson tried to justify the move to a sometimes gnarly media, while Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., president Richard Peddie watched from a side door, then himself was scrummed in the hall.

Peddie was asked if the heat was squarely on the GM, now that he could get his own coach in place.

"The moment you take the job here, you are expected to perform," Peddie said. "He doesn't get much slack."

Peddie, meanwhile, had to clear Ferguson's decision with the MLSEL board of directors, some of whom were either Quinn backers or were miffed at having to pay him $1.5 million US next year not to coach.

"They wanted to know the rationale," Peddie said. "But they also wanted to treat (Quinn) with respect."

POWER STRUGGLE

As for a story that a power struggle had erupted between Quinn and Ferguson, this week, Peddie said the decision to fire the coach had been reached much earlier -- likely around the disastrous back-to-back losses in Montreal -- but that all concerned "wanted to see out the whole year."

Peddie vowed the next coach would be a proven winner, either front-runner and Stanley Cup finalist Paul Maurice or someone else with a long resume.

"Rookies need not apply," he said.

Ferguson was on the defensive much of yesterday. He had to make a case for letting go Quinn, the future Hall of Famer, while pointing to a 41-win, 90-point season as signs that the Leafs are not a charity case.

"This change is as much about the future, and where we are going as an organization, as it is as much about what has transpired here," Ferguson said.

"It's time for a new voice, a new approach."


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