Quinn all right with kids

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

He didn't match lines enough.

His practices were too soft.

He didn't give Mats Sundin enough ice time.

He gave Nik Antropov too much ice time.

And so on and so on ...

Whether they were true or not, Pat Quinn heard all those criticisms of his coaching tactics during his primarily successful tenure behind the Maple Leafs bench.

Over and over again.

But perhaps the most frequent diss thrown Quinn's way was the theory that he could not effectively coach young players.

That's a theory that Leafs rookie Alex Steen disagreed with yesterday, just moments after being informed that Quinn had been relieved of his duties by general manager John Ferguson.

Steen was quick to point out how well the Leafs fared in the final 10 games of the season sporting a roster saturated with kids.

"He obviously was very good for us younger guys," Steen said. "All of us young guys on the team had a great experience with Pat.

"The young guys really received a lot of encouragement from Pat and the entire coaching staff. For guys like myself and (Kyle Wellwood), who was also in his first season, it really meant a lot."

Leaf players congregated at the home of captain Mats Sundin last night for a team dinner. You can bet Quinn's firing was a hot topic of conversation.

"As one of the leaders on this team, I feel responsible," forward Darcy Tucker said. "He helped me out immensely and I plan on telling him that when I call him in (the next few days).

"The guys have a lot of respect for him and I think this (firing) falls on us."

Forward Jeff O'Neill figured that, rightly or wrongly, the writing pretty much was on the wall.

"It was a little surprising, but you kind of knew something was going to happen when you miss the playoffs," O'Neill said. "In this town, it's like if Joe Torre missed the playoffs with the Yankees."


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