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Leafs fire coach Paul Maurice @NHLdotcom

TORONTO (AP) -Paul Maurice was fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs after his team failed to make the playoffs during his two seasons.

Maurice, who has one year left on his contract, was informed of the decision Wednesday morning.

"You know the way the season ended up and the changes that are going to take place on the team," Maurice told The Canadian Press from his Toronto home. "So I was very aware that it was a possibility."

Interim general manager Cliff Fletcher was to provide more details at an afternoon news conference at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs finished 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 36-35-11 record and missed a playoff spot by 11 points.

The quick decision by the Leafs allows the 41-year-old Maurice to look for other NHL jobs.

"I appreciate it happening sooner rather than later," he said.

Maurice was also fired as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2003. He said the second time is slightly easier to take.

"You don't take it nearly as personally I don't think," he said. "It's always a very difficult thing because it's a competition every day and when you lose that competition it's difficult."

Maurice's job was spared in January when the team fired general manager John Ferguson and replaced him with Fletcher on an interim basis. The Leafs are still looking for a full-time GM.

Maurice and Ferguson said the Leafs would be a playoff team competing for the Stanley Cup. When asked to assess the good and the bad during his two years behind the Leafs bench, Maurice wasn't ready to respond.

"I don't know that I'm in the right state of mind to go through them right now," he said. "The fact of the matter is that there are always things - even in good seasons - that you would like to have changed. At the same time, you made the decisions with experience, with your entire staff on board, and you live with those results."

Ferguson hired Maurice on May 12, 2006 after firing Pat Quinn. That move came after the Leafs missed the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

Maurice's first season with the club came in 2006-07 after coaching the AHL farm team. The Leafs had a winning record but missed the playoffs by one point.

Maurice became an NHL coach at age 28, spending eight years as coach of the Hartford Whalers and Carolina. His best season was 2001-02, when Carolina eliminated Toronto in the Eastern Conference final to reach the championship series for the first time.

The Hurricanes fired Maurice 30 games into the 2003-04 season. His next coaching job came when he joined the Toronto organization in 2005-06 to guide the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

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