Paul Maurice knows this much: He won't spend his summer holidays twisting in the wind.
In a strange sense, Maurice figured the Maple Leafs did the right thing yesterday, firing him early enough that he has plenty of time to look for another coaching job for next season if that's what he wants to do.
"I appreciate the fact this was something that was not drawn out," Maurice said. "The team is going in one direction and I was not going to be a part of it."
Also fired was assistant coach Randy Ladouceur. Assistant Keith Acton was retained, while another assistant coach, Dallas Eakins, has been offered a job in the front office. Interim general manager Cliff Fletcher confirmed that Mike Penny will move to director of pro scouting next season from assistant GM, goaltending coach Steve McKichan has been let go and assistant GM Jeff Jackson is staying put.
There was more. Sources confirmed a TSN story that the Leafs have asked the Vancouver Canucks for permission to speak to recently fired GM David Nonis about a management position.
The theory making the rounds is Nonis would run the show for a season as associate general manager while Brian Burke finishes his contract with the Anaheim Ducks. Burke would then take over the Leafs' front office. Neither Nonis nor Gord Kirke, who is heading the search for a new general manager, returned messages left on their cell phones last night.
Burke told Sun Media's Steve Simmons he did not want to comment on the speculation.
The Leafs' contacting of the Canucks so they can talk to Nonis is a break from the infancy stages of the GM search. Doug Armstrong, formerly the GM of the Dallas Stars, and former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke have expressed an interest in the job to varying degrees, and the name of Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford won't go away.
Fletcher insisted he will not be the general manager of the Leafs when training camp opens in September.
The timing of the firing of Maurice was seen as odd, though not by Fletcher.
"We're only four weeks removed from the end of the regular season and it's not uncommon that a decision would not be made for the first four weeks," Fletcher said. "The people who are going to come and run the hockey club will want their own staff. I felt uncomfortable with our current staff with being held in limbo when the reality of it was that what happened (yesterday) was going to happen eventually."
At its board meeting on Tuesday, the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. hierarchy endorsed the firings, but Fletcher said the board did not initiate them.
Under Maurice, who was hired May 12, 2006, after Pat Quinn was fired, the Leafs were 76-66-22. But neither spring saw an appearance by the Leafs in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"I don't think I'm surprised with the way things turned out," Maurice said. "I was very aware of the number of possibilities and that this was one of them. I don't really have any other thoughts of anything else right now, and certainly would not make any kind of decision about my future."
Was Maurice, who has a year left on his contract, disappointed or upset with his firing?
"I'm still looking for the right word," Maurice said. "I'm 41, and I have a lot of years left ahead of me. I'm just going to hang with my kids for a while."
The NHL coaching record of Paul Maurice, who was fired yesterday by the Maple Leafs:
Season Team Record
1995-96 Hartford 29-33-8
1996-97 Hartford 32-39-11
1997-98 Carolina 33-41-8
1998-99 Carolina 34-30-18
1999-00 Carolina 37-35-10
2000-01 Carolina 38-35-9
2001-02 Carolina 35-31-16
2002-03 Carolina 22-49-11
2003-04 Carolina 8-14-8
2006-07 Toronto 40-31-11*
2007-08 Toronto 36-35-11*
* -- OVERTIME/SHOOTOUT LOSSES; PREVIOUS YEARS, THIRD NUMBER REPRESENTS OVERTIME LOSSES/TIES