Maple Leafs fire Pat Quinn

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TORONTO (AP) – The Maple Leafs fired Pat Quinn on Thursday, two days after Toronto missed the playoffs for the first time in his seven seasons as coach.

The 63-year-old Quinn led Toronto to a 41-33-8 record this season. It was only the fourth season in his stellar 19-year coaching career that he missed the playoffs.

Quinn had one year remaining on his contract. Longtime assistant Rick Ley was also fired.

The team called an afternoon news conference to make the official announcement.

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

He’s fourth all-time in coaching victories with 657 behind Scotty Bowman (1,244), Al Arbour (781) and Dick Irvin (692).

Quinn became Toronto’s 25th head coach in June 1998, inheriting a club that missed the playoffs in successive seasons. It didn’t take long for Quinn to make an impact. The Leafs set a club record for wins (45), reached the conference final and Quinn was runner-up for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 1998-99.

When he arrived from Vancouver after 11 seasons as general manager and a few spells as coach, Quinn said he was looking forward to just coaching the Leafs.

That lasted only one year. When Mike Smith left in the summer of 1999 after a power struggle with president Ken Dryden, Quinn stepped in and took over the GM job. Quinn kept the dual roles for four seasons until John Ferguson was hired.

In 1999-2000, Quinn led the Leafs to their first division title since 1962-63. The team once again tied a franchise record 45 wins.

The Leafs finished third overall in the NHL standings in 2001-02 and reached the conference final. It was during that series loss to Carolina that Quinn had a health scare, as doctors discovered he had an irregular heart beat.

A slimmer and healthier looking Quinn kept on leading to the Leafs to winning seasons. The set club records for points (103) and road wins (23) in 2003-04 but the Leafs lost in the second round to Philadelphia.

Quinn has never won a Stanley Cup as head coach although he led the 1980 Philadelphia Flyers and 1994 Canucks to the final. He also coached Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2002 and the World Cup of Hockey championship in 2004.

AP-ES-04-20-06 1205EDT

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