Clarke steps up for Quinn

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Bobby Clarke feels Pat Quinn was screwed over by the Maple Leafs.

Okay, so he didn't use those exact words.

His language was far more colourful and to the point.

"He got f----- in Toronto," the animated Philadelphia Flyers general manager said yesterday. "That was really wrong."

While his team has been focused on its first-round playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres this week, Clarke admitted having a conversation with the recently fired Maple Leafs coach the other day.

Apparently, Quinn was relatively calm during the chat between the two longtime acquaintances.

Clarke not so much.

"He is a lot more classy than I am," said Clarke, who ripped the Maple Leafs organization for their handling of the entire affair.

"His goalie (Ed Belfour) was hurt. His centre (Mats Sundin) was hurt. Even with that, his team just missed the playoffs."

It was the first time a Quinn-coached Maple Leafs team had failed to reach the post-season, a fact Clarke figures was lost on the suits running Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Ltd.

"Look at the tradition he had built there, and this is how he gets treated?" Clarke said. "There has got to be some kind of loyalty out there.

"You look at what (bleeping) happened there and you have to wonder: Who would want to work in Toronto? What's going to happen next year? Are they going to fire the new coach if he doesn't make the playoffs?

"What the (bleep) is going on in our business with all these coaches and GMs being fired? A lot of good teams didn't make the playoffs this year. And by next week, a lot more good teams will be out, too."

Feeling Quinn unfairly was made the scapegoat, Clarke compared the firing to putting the family pet down.

"It's like taking the dog down to the vet. (Say) goodbye," Clarke said.

"Listen, even if they thought Pat needed to change his coaching style or something, they could have offered to make him the team president or something. Look at his track record there. Look at the (bleeping) success he had there."

Clarke indicated he doesn't place the brunt of the blame for the decision on general manager John Ferguson. He didn't name names, but one would suspect he was wagging an accusing finger at Ferguson's bosses.

Richard Peddie, president of MLSEL, could not be reached for comment last night.

As for Ferguson, he politely opted not to respond until he could completely digest and analyze Clarke's allegations.

While Clarke and Quinn consider themselves friends, their relationship has endured rocky moments over the years, especially during trade talks involving Eric Lindros back in 2001.

The mud-slinging between Clarke and Quinn, Toronto's general manager at the time, reached its pinnacle when the Leafs boss held a news conference condemning the Flyers for not following through on the Lindros deal.

Clarke, travelling via train from Philly to New York, responded with an obscenity-laced tirade that suggested Quinn should stop his whining.

Clarke's vilification of the Leafs could be heard on the Flyers media hotline for about 20 minutes before team officials deemed the message too crude for public consumption and removed the tape.

Interestingly, the cussing issue was again front and centre yesterday for the Flyers. Coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters he was sorry for uttering a couple of f-bombs when the subject of Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff came up during a news conference after Buffalo's 8-2 win over the Flyers Monday in Game 2 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final.

NO APOLOGIES

Clarke, however, was making no such apologies for his own choice of swear words yesterday.

That's how strongly he feels the Leafs were in the wrong.


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