End of the Mighty Quinn

Pat Quinn was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday by GM John...

Pat Quinn was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday by GM John Ferguson Jr. (Toronto Sun File/Fred Thornhill)

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Pat Quinn hit the 300-win mark as Maple Leafs coach on Tuesday, but yesterday he was whacked by a broom.

With he and general manager John Ferguson at odds on the club's future after missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years and their Bay St. bosses getting a public roasting for a looming 40th year with a Stanley Cup, Ferguson fired the 63-year-old future Hall of Famer, with a year to go on his $1.5 million US contract.

"I thanked him for his years of exemplary service here," Ferguson said at an Air Canada Centre press conference. "This decision was given the requisite care and respect to the individual and his accomplishments. I trust it was handled the right way. He was the consummate professional."

Quinn, second only to four-time Cup winner Punch Imlach in Leaf wins and third in NHL playoff victories over the past five years, has declined comment until a later date. But Toronto Marlies coach Paul Maurice, considered a shoo-in to get the job whenever Quinn was let go or retired, was on a bus to Grand Rapids, Mich., for a playoff game yesterday. Ferguson said Maurice was "the prime candidate," but also promised a full search for a replacement.

The firing of old Quinn crony Rick Ley, but the retaining of fellow assistant coach Keith Acton for "a yet-to-be determined" role, indicates Maurice is moving up and Acton could be his replacement at Ricoh Coliseum. It's also possible the Leafs have someone currently under contract in mind, such as Canucks' Marc Crawford, a one-time Leafs' farm team coach in St. John's, who is on shaky ground in Vancouver and has always coveted a chance to work here.

"It does make sense to respect the process and consider others who are successful, experienced NHL head coaches," Ferguson said. "But there is no time frame (to hire)."

Ferguson's initial decision to dump Quinn likely came around the Olympics when the Leafs came back from the break and continued their nosedive out of the playoffs. Given up for dead in late March, they lost just one of their final 12 games in regulation, a playoff run that might have saved Quinn. But that was not enough to change Ferguson's mind and he cleared his decision with the board of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

BOARD APPROVAL

Ferguson must also get the board to okay his next selection as coach, though MLSEL president Richard Peddie insisted "John is our top hockey man" and would not be demoted or fired in favour of a newly created team president's role. Peddie hired and fired Rob Babcock as GM of the basketball Raptors before naming the better qualified Bryan Colangelo team president this year. MLSEL will lose millions in playoff revenue this spring with no Leaf or Raptor participation.

Quinn has stated often in the past he wants to continue coaching as long as he can. Possibilities include Boston, Chicago, Vancouver and Phoenix, depending on how those non-playoff teams address their situation.


Videos

Photos