November 20, 2003
EDMONTON (CP) - Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin denies a contention that he and his teammates are fed up with coach Pat Quinn.
"I don't know where that's coming from," Sundin said after the morning skate to prepare for a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
Sundin, his teammates and Quinn all were aware of a Toronto Sun article stating that "trust between coach and player has all but disappeared."
The captain dismissed the notion.
|The Maple Leafs are standing up for their coach. |
"There's no conspiracy in this dressing room," said Sundin. "As players, we worry about winning games.
"That's it - nothing more dramatic than that."
If there is bickering, the players say it is only because they are unhappy with their performances so far this season.
"We haven't played to our potential," said Darcy Tucker.
The Sun quoted an unnamed "well-regarded agent" as saying the players are unhappy and it is a team "with a lot of malcontents right now."
Tie Domi ruled out any possibility Quinn is the problem.
"It must be a slow day in Toronto for the media," said Domi. "Pat is well-respected and he prepares us so we're ready for the games.
"It's our jobs to get it done on the ice. We've been a little tight lately, unfortunately for us. We were hoping to pull away from the pack in the conference on this road trip but it just hasn't happened that way. But we still have time."
Added Sundin: "Our record is not as good as we want it to be but we believe we have a good group in here. We think we can turn things around. We can't blame anything on Pat. It's up to the players. It's up to us to get that going again."
Quinn calmly fielded questions in a corridor outside the visitors' dressing room.
"I'm surprised at some of the stuff that comes out," he said of media reports.
Players don't have to like the coach to perform, he said.
"The onus is on the players," he said. "They play for each other, not the coach."
If a player blames a coach, "Usually if that happens they're looking for excuses."
He said he's "trying to do the best I can each day."
"I don't feel I'm an intimidating person," he said. If players have beefs with him, "They know they can walk down the hall (to his office) any time. My door is always open."
Domi said that's the route he'd take if he had a gripe.
"If I ever had a problem or an issue with Pat, I'd walk right in his door and talk to him about it," he said. "If anybody has a problem with Pat, his door is open, and they should go talk to him. As far as I know, nobody has walked in his door."
It's funny how perceptions change, Quinn added. When he coached previous teams, he was often described as a players' coach. Now he's accused of having poor communications with his men.
"People are always pointing the finger at coaches, the captain or your best players when you're going through a funk like we are," said Domi. "But we have a good bunch of guys in here and we're confident in one another."
The players intend to stick together, he said.
"Whatever I say, whatever I do in this dressing room, like everyone else, it stays in here. We're not letting anything get out of this dressing room.
"People want to start (stirring things up) like they did last year and the year before, let it be. But nobody is going to disrupt us this year. We decided that from the start and we're not going to let it creep in now."