by John Iaboni Continued ...
Quinn is by no means perfect. After all, players around the NHL like Jason Smith, Steve Sullivan and Fredrik Modin, blossomed elsewhere after falling out of favour with Quinn. Still, Quinn knows he lives an occupation that isn't foolproof. He just plows on, doing it his way, trying for more hits than misses.
But unlike the Colorado Avalanche, who finished out of the playoffs in five consecutive seasons as the Quebec Nordiques and stockpiled a ton of excellent prospects they either kept or converted into key additions, the Leafs don't have the blue-chip stock to do that yet. So for now, Quinn signs free agents and makes trades, all under the discerning microscope of the world's hockey capital.
| Aki Berg has blossomed under Quinn. |
Graig Abel Photography
Since adding Berg to their lineup, the Leafs also added Schwab, Barrasso, Reichel, Renberg, Green, Mogilny, Lumme and Pilar. Even Paul Healey, who's filled in nicely when promoted from the farm team in St. John's, was an off-season pickup via the free agency route. That's nine new faces in a year! And despite the changes and the injuries, the Leafs have found a way to remain one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
All this brings us back to this year's trade deadline and, yes, the day elapsed without the Leafs making a move. They didn't like what was available and said, thanks, but no thanks. Adding Barrasso for goaltending insurance four days earlier was the Leafs significant move as trade deadline fever intensified with rumours involving an unbelievable number of players around the league.
So, what was Quinn telling his troops on March 19? Basically that he believes in them. He thinks they have the right chemistry and talent to challenge for the right to represent the east in the Stanley Cup final. Of course, only time will tell if Quinn is right.
But take a look at these Leafs through these final games of the regular season and in the playoffs. Whether they win it all or not, come September Quinn's lineup will be different. The man, contrary to perception, isn't opposed to change. His track record proves it. He just doesn't do all the wheeling and dealing one day in March.