FanDuel - WFBC

April 20, 2006

The Toronto Maple Leafs fire coach Pat Quinn and assistant coach Rick Ley: Quinn's Maple Leaf tenure lasted seven seasons and featured six playoff appearances with two of those taking Conference finals trips. Will Paul Maurice be the next coach to lead the storied franchise?

posted by NoMich to hockey at 11:13 AM - 29 comments

The best part of this is the sacking of Rick Ley. By all accounts, that dude was worse than useless.

posted by fabulon7 at 11:15 AM on April 20

Wasn't Rick Ley the joker that traded Ron Francis from the Whalers?

posted by NoMich at 11:16 AM on April 20

I liked Pat Quinn fine, but I can't say I'm unhappy to hear this. He could have dragged it out for another couple of years, favored the veterans over the kids, let the communication between himself and the team get ever worse as it did in Philly and Vancouver before this, but why bother protracting the inevitable? Also, it's promising to see a proactive move by the front office instead of reacting to something that's already gone bad. This was a transitional year anyways. If they're cleaning house, then that bodes well moving forward. And Paul Maurice (if they're going that way) would be a fine choice. He's good with the kids, which the Leafs are definitely going to need for the next couple of years, and he's got a clue about coaching under pressure.

posted by chicobangs at 11:33 AM on April 20

Agreed. I like Quinn. He has his assets and his drawbacks, just like every coach. I just think he didn't transition well into the new NHL. But Chico, you are bang-on; why drag this out any further? It was bound to happen. Now JFJ's pieces to his puzzle are falling into place. Scouting and coaching are now owned by him, and Maurice was the plan all along. Let's see who he signs this summer.

posted by garfield at 11:39 AM on April 20

arghh, I guess I'm ambivilent on Quinn, but Ferguson just seems like a little pedigreed silver spoon punk to me -- he gets my respect when he does something to earn it -- as much as I agree that Quinn's time was probably up it irks me that this little punk is the one booting a great hockey man out to the curb -- this jaded Leaf fan just became even more jaded

posted by hb74147 at 11:50 AM on April 20

I don't know about this. I was all for firing Quinn years ago, and still am today because I don't think he's a particularly good coach, just one that's always had a lot of talent. However I wanted him gone when there were other better options available - Hitchcock, Lemaire, Martin, Larry Robinson even. I'm not sure at all that Maurice has what it takes to be the coach of a team that expects to win and win big every year (and should do better next year with another 20-25m of cap space). He may, but a couple of seasons in Carolina doesn't really mean much. Why not audition Maurice another year on the farm and let Quinn give it one last shot? Was this season such a disaster that it merited firing the coach of one of the top 5 most successful teams over the last 8 years? Were the players tuning him out? Are there other problems? He couldn't have been hampering JFJ too much if JFJ actually was able to fire him. This reeks to me of a quick fix kind of thing that's been the trademark of the other MLSE team sharing the ACC, at least until Colangelo's hiring (which made sense, fire the guy you have when there's a better option available).

posted by loquax at 11:56 AM on April 20

One thing this isn't is a quick fix. This is part of what's looking like a much larger plan by Ferguson to get the Leafs away from overpaying old farts every year, and starting to take advantage of the homegrown talent (much of it currently being coached by Paul Maurice, coincidentally) which is much cheaper, longer-lasting and (not least importanly) way better from a PR standpoint. Remember, JFJ took half of Quinn's job (and the top half, no less), which can't have sat well with Quinn, who's cranky at the best of times. I'm sure Quinn thought of Ferguson as a silver-spoon punk (You do remember John Ferguson Senior, right? What what kind of privilege do you think that crotchety old goon would have ever passed on, eh?), and didn't take direction well. (Quinn, like JFS, played like that, and has always coached like that. That's what makes him successful, and it's also his undoing.) And what's with the Maurice hate? He led a team to the Stanley Cup finals. What more do you want? I guess you're right, though; if you don't count his successes, Maurice has been a total failure.

posted by chicobangs at 12:17 PM on April 20

I don't think Maurice is going anywhere. I think they like him where he is. Maurice's big knock is that he is a great developer of talent, but not a terrific bench boss. He'd be in tough in the centre of the hockey universe. Toronto isn't going to be a team of youngsters next year that need guidance - they're going to spend $20 million this off-season and get some proven help. Targets include: Patrick Elias, Zdeno Chara, Brad Richards, Ed Jovanovski, Fred Modin and maybe some of the restricted free agents that they can outbid their current teams for - Afiniganov (sp), some Oilers, etc. (they only cost a second rounder). Obviously they're getting maybe two of these guys and resigning McCabe. I think ideally they have a "Big Three" defence supported by three of the young D that performed well this year. On the plus side this means the buy-out of Tie Domi. He has no supporters left outside of Tanenbaum (who needs to shut the fuck up). Bye bye Berg, Allison, Khavanov, Wilm, Belfour and Antropov (maybe not Antropov). However - I liked Pat Quinn. I see him back in Vancouver.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:36 PM on April 20

P.S. Rick Ley is a muppet.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:39 PM on April 20

I just hope the next Leafs coach brings up Johnny Pohl. How many goals does a guy have to score to get a chance.

posted by emoeby at 12:39 PM on April 20

Weedy, who are the high profile candidates the board is supposedly gung-ho about? Apart from Ted Nolan, because we all know that won't happen. My free-agent preference would be Richards and a lower-profile late-20s defender. I can't see Elias going anywhere.

posted by garfield at 12:47 PM on April 20

Well, I guess this marks the new Leafs heading forward into the new NHL. a year late I guess. they played well to close the season so potentially the team that ended the year is playoff material for next year but i guess holding onto your cards with that in mind isn't an easy move to make.

posted by gspm at 12:55 PM on April 20

Garf - I have no idea. I can't think of a single one and no one around here has leaked any names yet. Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of "As the Leaf(s) BLOWS". (I think Toronto can offer Elias more than Jersey. I think they will. I think the Leafs are desperate to get someone to play with Sundin.)

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:57 PM on April 20

One thing this isn't is a quick fix. This is part of what's looking like a much larger plan by Ferguson to get the Leafs away from overpaying old farts every year, and starting to take advantage of the homegrown talent (much of it currently being coached by Paul Maurice, coincidentally) which is much cheaper, longer-lasting and (not least importanly) way better from a PR standpoint. Ferguson was the one that brought in O'Neill, Allison and Lindros, and re-signed Domi, and traded for Leetch. I agree that it looks like the leafs *may* head in that direction, but with millions to spend, I'll bet that you see more veterans replace departing players than the injury replacements we've seen at the end of this year. I know Quinn and JFJ have never gotten along, but why fire Quinn now? If they didn't get along and it was such an issue, why not fire him in January, mid-slump when his firing could have changed things? Firing Quinn and bringing in someone who isn't an obvious improvment is a bad move in my books, and looks like a quick fix to appease the media and the fans, creating the illusion that something is happening. Why couldn't JFJ get rid of the players that he thought contributed to the lack of success this season and let Quinn coach the personnel the GM thinks is appropriate. Because if Quinn was fired because JFJ didn't like the players Quinn was playing, well, who's fault is it that Domi, Berg, Khavanov and the rest of them were sitting on the bench and avaialble? I don't hate Maurice, just don't see why he's viewed as a better option than Quinn. He's coached about 600 games in the NHL with a record below .500 with some crappy teams and made the playoffs three times. Their cup run was a fluke, and it showed when they were clobbered 4-0 by the Wings. I think it's fair to see what Maurice can do with another year with Marlies before making him the coach of the big club. Honestly, there's a host of guys I'd rather see come in, including Andy Murray and Marc Crawford (assuming he gets fired).

posted by loquax at 12:58 PM on April 20

Well, I guess this marks the new Leafs heading forward into the new NHL. a year late I guess I don't think it was necessarily a bad a thing to wait a year. Now they have a better understanding of the new NHL, and they know which players have adapted and which can't hack it. Elias ain't going anywhere, this is his team now. But just in case, stay the hell away from him! You guys already ruined Mogilny dammit. Who you guys should go after is Jeff Freisen.

posted by njsk8r20 at 01:04 PM on April 20

Elias and Chara will be fielded offers from almost every team in the league. No one team should get their hopes up.

posted by Samsonov14 at 01:25 PM on April 20

No they won't. Cap space is a huge issue for a ton of teams. If NJ signs Elias, they're going to have a hard time hanging onto Gionta, Madden and Gomez. Elias is older and more of the injured variety - out of the four, I think they let Elias walk. I think Ottawa will be able to resign both Chara and Redden. They're looking for a goalie just like the Leafs. Nabokov will be available in a trade.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:30 PM on April 20

I really don't see Elias going anywhere, he doesn't seem to me to be a show me the money kind of guy, or Madden for that matter. I don't think Gionta is going to give NJ any problems in resigning. And just to make sure they don't have another Scott Neidermeyer incident, they already have the younger Gionta in the system. I can see Gomez going for the money though.

posted by njsk8r20 at 01:52 PM on April 20

I really didn't want Quinn to get fired. I wanted him to retire/resign on his own terms. As it is, he was probably too stubborn to let go.

posted by grum@work at 02:26 PM on April 20

I think the Leafs are desperate to get someone to play with Sundin Are you sure about that Smokey? They haven't exactly come across that way in the past eight or nine years... (And their big idea had better not be the return of Modin.)

posted by fabulon7 at 02:26 PM on April 20

...and it showed when they were clobbered 4-0 by the Wings. How quickly we forget game 1 of that series. And game 3 wasn't exactly a walk in the park for either team.

posted by NoMich at 02:28 PM on April 20

Hey fabby - I think that the fact they fired Quinn so fast is indicative of some degree of decisiveness. The Leafs I knew would have waited until all the prime free agents were signed and no alternative coaches available. I also think that they are aware that they have maybe two years before they have to go out and get another franchise centre. And this is the year with the cap space - so odds are that are in the market for a winger who can play now. Incredibly, the Leafs could turn this whole thing around by September and be back in contention. They have the money, now let's see if they can get the talent.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:56 PM on April 20

I saw that, njsk8r.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:12 PM on April 20

Cap space is a huge issue for a ton of teams Not if that cap goes up and aren't they expecting the cap to up good chunk this year?

posted by 86 at 03:18 PM on April 20

I just hope the next Leafs coach brings up Johnny Pohl. How many goals does a guy have to score to get a chance. That's why they should get Maurice. He knows those young guys better than Quinn -- and would likely give them a chance. Maybe. Quinn relied on his old guys too much, and that's not necessarily a good thing on an increasingly younger team. Also didn't give Sundin the proper ice time. He's a great coach, no doubt, but this was inevitable. Also, The Star had an almost hilarious speculation team roster for next year, taking into account who resigns, free-agents, and who they let go. Wishful thinking at its finest.

posted by mkn at 04:01 PM on April 20

>Also, The Star had an almost hilarious speculation team roster for next year... That article was wishful thinking. I liked Pat Quinn as a character. But he had way too much patience with some players and too much anti-patience with others. I think part of it was that Canada did not win at Turin: Ferguson couldn't fire the gold medal winning coach.

posted by Philfromhavelock at 07:57 PM on April 20

As a die-hard leafs fan I have to say Ferguson is a bum and Quinn is a great man and coach. Wish Ferguson got canned instead.

posted by gp_rider at 03:11 AM on April 21

Is this Star speculation article online? I couldn't find it.

posted by gspm at 11:16 AM on April 21

The first thing the new coach needs to do is lock up Lindros with a long-term deal... Ow! Pucks really do hurt! A lot!

posted by wingnut4life at 11:29 AM on April 21

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