Coach Q available

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Just two days after Toronto fired Paul Maurice, ex-Maple Leaf Joel Quenneville is a free agent coach with interest in returning.

The Colorado Avalanche announced yesterday that Quenneville won't return for a fourth season, but his vast NHL experience and ties to Toronto might make him attractive to the Leafs' yet-to-be named general manager.

"I've been fortunate enough to play there and coach in the organization to start there," Quenneville told the Denver Post yesterday. "There's a lot of synergy there in my experience with Toronto, and it's all positive.

"I don't want to say no and I don't want to say yes, because right now, I'm not even thinking that far out. I want to coach in the league. I'll leave it at that."

Quenneville played defence here in the late 1970s, went to the Colorado Rockies in the infamous Lanny McDonald deal and wound up a player/coach under Marc Crawford with the St. John's Maple Leafs in the early '90s.

Quenneville's St. Louis and Denver teams made the playoffs all but one year since 1996, but he was just 2-2 in post-season series since joining the Avs in 2005-06.

BLAKE A FINALIST

Despite a lean, non-playoff season, the Leafs could have an NHL trophy winner, just their seventh since 1966.

The Professional Hockey Writers Association has announced that winger Jason Blake is a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy, for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Blake was one of three Leafs to play in all 82 regular-season games, despite being diagnosed early in the autumn with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a rare, but treatable form of cancer.

Blake is up against ageless Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios, the second-oldest NHLer at age 46, and Edmonton Oilers winger Fernando Pisani, who overcame a serious bout with colitis that cost him the first 26 games of the season.

The Masterton winner will be announced at the NHL awards show on June 12.

MILEAGE CUTBACK

Fired Leafs goaltending instructor Steve McKichan will miss working in Toronto, but not the drive.

"I make 95% of my income from my school and I found myself spending 90% of my time on the other 5%," the 41-year-old Strathroy native told the London Free Press.

"They said they're happy with the job I did, but they're clearing out coaches for the new GM.

"Vesa Toskala said he is interested in coming to train again this summer. All of the Leafs goalies said they're interested, so I'll still be working with them."


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