Friday, April 21, 2006

Bizarro World

I can't believe how many people are defending Pat Quinn after his getting fired yesterday.  (The ultimate irony is calling Quinn a victim of politics - Quinn out politicked Ken Dryden, Mike Smith and the rest of the Leafs front office for years.)

The common theme is that Quinn was limited based on John Ferguson Jr.'s poor moves coming into the season.  While true, it seems odd that Quinn wouldn't move them to the bench until forced to by injury (see Belfour, Allison).  In fact, Scott Burnside makes the exact same point in defense of Quinn:

He was unflinchingly loyal to his cast, even if it was a cast that was often overpaid and underachieving.

While loyalty is something that a coach should probably have, the ability to identify things that are not working and correcting them is also a desirable trait.  Quinn seemed to not have that trait (unless it was coincidentally able to tweak his GM - see O'Neill).  His desire to stick with a shootout lineup of Sundin, Ponokarovski and Tucker - even after their repeated failure - cost the Leafs some valuable points in the standings.  And his desire to see Ed Belfour succeed cost the Leafs more than a few games.

His use of youngsters also left something to be desired.  Matt Stajan got an opportunity to play, but only after Jason Allison went down for the season.  Wade Belak was continually played over many young defensemen, even though his defensive skills could be defined as non-existent.  Tie Domi was marched out game after game, proving why he's the most expensive 12th forward in the league.  Kyle Wellwood was given a public dressing down after attempting a creative, albeit hot-doggy, shot on net.

While Quinn had a good record of making the playoffs, the Leafs never made a Stanley Cup final (which is the supposed goal of MLSE).  Firing him after 8 years of not making the playoffsCup Finals does not seem to be that big of a travesty.

Let's be honest - the Leafs weren't that good of a team coming into the season.  And Ferguson deserves a lot of criticism for the roster he constructed.  And yet they could have salvaged a playoff spot if Quinn actually coached in the last few months of the season, as opposed to putting it on auto-pilot until it was too late. 

(Edited to correct the playoff/finals mix up)


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