Maurice ready for move

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

Now the wait begins.

With the Toronto Marlies eliminated from the American Hockey League playoffs last night, the next question for many is when Paul Maurice will be announced as the coach of the Maple Leafs.

When he was asked how interested he was in the Leafs coaching vacancy, Maurice gave a one-word answer: "Very."

The next question put to Maurice was how quickly he expects things to fall into place.

"I have no expectations about how the process works," Maurice said. "I think the process is critically important for a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs. And however it plays out, it plays out."

When reached on his cellphone late last night, a patient John Ferguson said nothing had changed in his mind. When Pat Quinn was fired last week, the Leafs general manager had said Maurice was a prime candidate. And now?

"(Maurice) remains a prime candidate," Ferguson said. "That's where I stand and where the process is now."

There is some thought a news conference could be held early in the week but only Ferguson knows.

The Marlies fell 2-1 to the Grand Rapids Griffins in double overtime and lost the best-of-seven first-round series in five games. Few expected much out of the Marlies this season, especially after players such as Alex Steen and Kyle Wellwood became regulars with the Leafs, but Maurice guided the club to a 41-29-6-4 record.

Maurice did what good minor-league coaches are supposed to do -- properly prepare his players to be perform well in the NHL, often at less than a day's notice. Few would argue that any of the players Maurice sent to the Leafs this season had a hard time adjusting. If Maurice is promoted to the Leafs, there has been speculation that assistant coach Keith Acton will be the new Marlies coach.

PROUD OF WORK

"I don't look at this season as a failure at all because our first job is to supply capable players," Maurice, a former Carolina Hurricanes coach, said. "We had a lot of good players go up and show they can (perform) on the short-term, but there is a big difference between going from short-term to the long-term. Players here did what they needed to do -- they got in (with the Leafs), they survived and they showed they are viable. The summer for these athletes is critical."

Marlies captain Marc Moro does not expect Maurice to be back with the team.

"He deserves to be at that next level because he is an NHL coach," Moro said. "I am sure this was just a brief stopover for him. I think we all kind of expected that."

Matt Ellis, with two goals including the winner at the 11-second mark of double overtime, scored for the Griffins. Alexander Suglobov scored for the Marlies.


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