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Pat Quinn Issues Statement

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
April 27, 2006


TORONTO (CP) -- Pat Quinn met the media nearly every single day during his seven seasons in Toronto.

So on Thursday, he figured a statement instead of a news conference would be more appropriate in his first public comments exactly a week after his firing as head coach of the Maple Leafs.

"There have been a number of media requests for interviews over the past few days and I thought it best to respond in this way,'' Quinn began his statement. "The team is moving in a new direction, and my departure should not distract in any way from the challenge facing the team and the organization, so a press gathering would not assist that process right now.

"It is also a time for personal privacy.''

Reached on the phone by The Canadian Press, Quinn said he had nothing to add. "I really don't want to comment any further,'' he said.

Quinn's statement recalled with fondness his seven seasons and eight years in Toronto, saying he was "genuinely optimistic every year, and believed we had teams that could advance and go a long way.''

Quinn's Leafs had winning records all seven seasons he was behind the bench in Toronto. The 63-year-old has missed the playoffs only twice in his 19 years as an NHL head coach and is the fourth-winningest coach of all-time.

He also coached Canada to an Olympic gold medal in men's hockey in 2002.

Quinn went 300-222-52 with 26 shootout and overtime losses as Leafs coach, twice leading Toronto to the Eastern Conference final where the Leafs lost to Buffalo in 1998-99 and the Hurricanes in 2001-02.

"I leave now remembering especially that first season in 1998-99, also the spring of 2002 when we worked so hard to try and reach the finals, and the 2004 playoffs, when I felt in my heart we had something special here,'' he said.

Quinn was relieved of his post after missing the playoffs for the first and only time since taking over the Leafs in 1998.

"I believed in our group this past season, as well,'' said Quinn. "While we did not achieve what we needed to, this group worked to deal with various obstacles, and I am proud of their efforts _ especially their work in recent weeks (finished on 9-1-2 run) when they overcame significant odds to almost attain a playoff berth after we dug a huge hole for ourselves.''

Quinn thanked former Leafs executives Mike Smith, Ken Dryden and Bill Watters as well as current front office members Mike Penny, Barry Trapp and Paul Dennis, as well as his assistant coaches Keith Acton and Rick Ley.

He also thanked Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of the board at Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, and former Leafs owner Steve Stavro who died earlier this week at the age of 78.

"I would particularly like to express my high regard for Steve Stavro, who passed away over the weekend,'' said Quinn. "Steve was a generous, caring individual, a genuine family man who had a passion for sports and the Maple Leafs.''

Quinn said there were too many players to thank by name, but singled out the three Leafs who were there from the beginning with him: Mats Sundin, Tie Domi and Tomas Kaberle.

"Mats was our great leader, Tie played with so much heart, and Tomas has developed into an outstanding all-around player,'' said Quinn.

"There is no game without the players, and no victories for a team or its coach without loyal and talented individuals on the management, coaching and support staffs,'' added Quinn.

Calling it the "best hockey city in the world,'' Quinn credited Canada's largest city for a great ride.

"The fans are knowledgeable and passionate,'' he said. "The media follows the team so closely, and while a little overzealous for my liking at times, help make playing, coaching and working here a stimulating environment daily.''

And he's not done coaching.

"My passion for the game, for coaching, is as strong as ever,'' he said.

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