Ferguson hits the road

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

John Ferguson yesterday picked up the pieces a day after firing coach Pat Quinn, which meant he flew to Grand Rapids, Mich., to take in the opening of the Toronto Marlies' playoff series against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Not only will Ferguson meet with the probable next coach of the Maple Leafs, Paul Maurice, but he will use the weekend as a brainstorming session with assistant general manager Mike Penny and pro scouts Craig Button and Shawn Simpson.

Though Ferguson will get the chance to fulfill the last year of his contract, it's thought that if the Leafs don't get out of the gate quickly next season, he will suffer the same fate of former Raptors GM Rob Babcock. The latter was fired in mid-season when it was clear the dismal club he had put together was going nowhere.

There has been speculation that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., board chairman Larry Tanenbaum already has been putting out feelers regarding a replacement for Ferguson, who was hired in August 2003.

Quinn, who has remained in the Toronto area, did not return messages yesterday.

Meanwhile, Ferguson said he expects to summon hot junior goalie Justin Pogge to join the Marlies for their playoff run. Though Pogge, who turns 20 today, could play for the Marlies only in an emergency, Ferguson wouldn't mind having him around for the experience and also to work with goaltending coach Steve McKichan. Pogge's Calgary Hitmen were eliminated from the Western Hockey League playoffs on Wednesday night, but yesterday Pogge was named one of two finalists for both the WHL player of the year and goalie of the year.

Pogge, who backstopped Canada to a world junior gold medal last winter, led the WHL with a 1.72 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and tied for first with 11 shutouts.

He was drafted by the Leafs in 2004 and signed with the club in December. In all likelihood, Pogge will play for the Marlies next season, but he is keeping the Leafs door open.

"It's another whole level to go up to, but you never know what can happen if you have a good training camp," Pogge said last night. "It will be a great experience either way."


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