Should The Mighty Quinn Fall?
The last time the Leafs missed the playoffs was the 1997 season, that year the Leafs had Mike Murphy start the year as coach only to have him replaced mid season by Nick Beverly on an interim basis. The following summer news came down that the Toronto Maple Leafs had hired Pat Quinn as new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In ’98 Quinn stepped a board the media juggernaut that is Toronto and guided a team of unknowns and misfits captained by the only sure shot NHL caliber offensive player the team had at the time in Mats Sundin. Two things were certain on that team Mats Sundin was a great player and goaltending was strong behind Curtis Joseph.
That season Quinn lead the team to a conference final, a feat that no one had expected that season; they clipped the Flyers in 6 games, then went on to shutdown Jaromir Jagr on the strength of a Gary Valk goal and then were lambasted by the Buffalo Sabres in 5 games. Since that time the Leafs have been able to accomplish five 100 point seasons as well as another conference final in 2001 against the Carolina Hurricanes which was highlighted by a Senator 4 game sweep in the first round. All in all under Quinn, the Leafs were a playoff team 6 straight seasons up until this season with a combined record over his tenure as Leaf coach of 299-214-60.
With a win tonight against the Penguins, Quinn would have coached the Leafs to 300 wins in his career. Now all that being said the ultimate goal of leading the Leafs to an elusive Stanley Cup was his main goal from day one in which the team has failed miserably to do. When one looks at Quinn’s career as coach of the Leafs you must step back and take a birds eye view of the situation and include some of the follies and blunders that were made in his time as GM or GM by committee. The waiving of Steve Sullivan, the trading of Jason Smith, the infatuation with Jonas Hoglund, the trading of Fredrik Modin for Cory Cross, the trading of Alyn McCauley and Brad Boyes for Owen Nolan, the trading of Berezin and Markov for Reichel, Renberg and Green and the mishandling of the Curtis Joseph situation.
You must also look at the good, the deal bringing McCabe for Karpotsev, the deal bringing in Darcy Tucker for Mike Johnson, the signing of Alexander Mogilny and Gary Roberts, signing of Ed Belfour immediately after having lost Cujo, the drafting of Steen, Stajan, Wellwood, White, Pilar, Colaiacovo, Harrison and Bell among few others, if I am forgetting other acquisitions forgive me. Quinn over the years has also had a history of grinding the NHL refereeing through the media on countless occasions, as well as calling out players on other teams for dirty plays or plays considered disrespectful in his time.
So with all this being said, do you feel as though Quinn should be let go or would you like to see Quinn play out his last season under contract as Maple Leafs coach?
My opinion is that Quinn was not supplied the right horses by JFJ and therefore how can Quinn be kicked out of the barn? IMO JFJ should be fired ahead of Quinn if it comes down to someone having to take the blame for this season. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment should have never brought in a rookie GM especially if there were no intentions to groom him as a GM requires. Personally, and this is pure hope and desire, I would like to see JFJ replaced by someone like Scotty Bowman. I know Bowman is in semi retirement, but I think a relationship between Bowman and Quinn could work really well. Bowman could bring his wealth of knowledge in being a leader of a championship caliber team year in and year out to Toronto, which is what this team sorely requires. This is not unlike MLSE’s other entity the Toronto Raptors who have already done so with the hiring of Colangelo.
Either way I don’t really know how you blame Quinn for this season, aside from line combinations and ice time, at the end of the day he was given a team to coach and he did the best he could with what few real talents he had. Pair that with league wide rule changes and a salary cap and you get a recipe for disaster that was fully prepared and cooked this season and it doesn’t taste very good. I’m not sure what it would take to remove this after taste from Leaf fans mouth, but I don’t think the firing of Quinn is the answer. The focus should be on the quality of leadership supplied by Richard Peddie, Larry Tannenbaum and John Ferguson Jr.