TORONTO (CP) - After a season that saw enormous expectation suddenly replaced with bitter disappointment, the biggest questions facing the Toronto Maple Leafs may be in the boardroom, not the dressing room.
After his team failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, coach and GM Pat Quinn may face new pressures to relinquish one of his posts even though the core of a team that collected 98 regular-season points will remain in tact.
Less than 24 hours after the Leafs were humbled 6-1 in Game 7 of their quarter-final series against Philadelphia, Quinn reiterated his long-time belief that it's possible to hold both positions and perform them well.
"A guy can do both jobs. That's not the problem,'' Quinn said.
The problem may be whether Quinn's new boss - Larry Tanenbaum, who takes over as chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment on July 1 - will force a change given the team's disappointing finish.
On Wednesday, Quinn downplayed reports that he and Tanenbaum are at odds.
"With Larry, I know him through our working relationship,'' Quinn said. "We don't have any differences so to speak that I'm aware of.''
Quinn believes the coach should have a say in deciding who plays for him.
There have been discussions in the past about bringing in a manager to assist Quinn and ultimately take over the duties full-time, as occurred several years ago with Scotty Bowman and Ken Holland in Detroit.
"We never got to bring in the young guy to learn the job for whatever reasons,'' Quinn said.
Quinn echoed the sentiments of some players who felt the first-round loss to Philadelphia was a step backward for the franchise, especially given the moves made at the trade deadline to improve the team's defence and overall depth.
"We felt like we had a pretty good team all year long with good skill and experience," Quinn said. "We didn't do it.''
"Besides last night, I like the heart of our team,'' offered winger Darcy Tucker, who shrugged off a disappointing regular season to play his best hockey against Philadelphia.
"We have guys in there that will do anything to win hockey games,'' he said. "It's frustrating to lose obviously. Right now, I'm pretty much at the point where I'm really mad. I know we've got a good hockey club ... but I'm mad that we lost.''