Quinn feels former assistant can handle heat

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Pat Quinn and Paul Maurice, the two men who served as Maple Leafs coach prior to Ron Wilson, have left their respective finger prints on the career of the 27th bench boss in franchise history.

In 1990, Quinn gave Wilson his first coaching job in the National Hockey League, bringing him up as an assistant with the Vancouver Canucks.

Eighteen years later, recently-fired coach Paul Maurice encouraged Wilson that, yes, he could handle the rigours of being the bench boss in the hockey fishbowl that is Toronto.

Wilson is not about to forget the help both men gave him.

As for the skeptics who believe Wilson will not be able to handle the intense scrutiny of Toronto after coaching in small-market centres such as Washington, Anaheim and San Jose, Quinn insists that Wilson is more than ready.

"I think he'll be fine," Quinn said yesterday from Vancouver. "He doesn't have a bad ego, but he has a strong one. He knows what he is.There are people who can't flower in that environment (in Toronto) but he has the makeup to do it.

HE WILL OVERCOME

"He'll encounter frustrations but he'll overcome them. He has a strong intellect and is a hard worker. With the Canucks, he loved to work on tapes and spent a lot of time working on things like the power play.

"I'm not surprised at the success he has had."

Wilson is grateful to Quinn for giving him the chance to coach at the NHL level.

"Pat provided me with a huge opportunity by inviting me up to the staff," he said.

"One thing I do not have is Pat Quinn's presence. He used to scare his assistant coaches. And half of the stuff he would say to the team was manufactured. Then you'd leave the room and you are trembling. And he would say, 'How was that? Think I got to them.' " And I'd say, 'You weren't serious?' He'd say 'No. I hurt my foot when I stomped.' I'd just tell him: 'Well you scared us so it must have worked on them.' "


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