Circumstances catch up with Quinn, Patrick

Thursday's personnel decisions aren't much of a surprise in the hockey world, given the respective circumstances.

For Pat Quinn, he was the victim of working in a market like Toronto. They don't accept losing in Toronto, a hockey city full of tradition and pride. That makes it even more remarkable that Quinn was with the team for seven seasons. But the bottom line is, Quinn couldn't lead the Maple Leafs to at least the Stanley Cup finals, something the team hasn't done since 1967.

But Thursday's firing is a culmination of a lot of factors -- mainly that the team didn't sign good free agents and had bad luck with injuries.

I think Pat will be back in some capacity if he wants to come back. He has a lot of experience and he's a strong coach. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back as only a general manager. And there will be a lot of openings out there over the next few months.

Which brings us to Craig Patrick.

New ownership is coming in and they'll want to hire their own people, and who knows, maybe that person is Patrick. Still, I think they are trying to make a fresh start in Pittsburgh. It's almost like the situation in St. Louis -- new ownership there isn't going to bring back all of the old Blues personnel.

Like many people, I thought Patrick's offseason signings were good ones. I thought Zigmund Palffy would be good; Sergei Gonchar would help the power play; Mark Recchi and John LeClair seemed like OK signings; and Mario Lemieux seemed rejuvenated. We all thought Patrick assembled a playoff team, but things went sour quickly.

Patrick has been with Pittsburgh a long time and has done good things for the team and the city. He also leaves the team with a good base intact. Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin (next season) and another high draft pick in 2006.

There is upside here for the Penguins, despite the firing. As for the Maple Leafs, only time, and signings, will tell.

Barry Melrose, a former NHL defenseman and coach, is a hockey analyst for ESPN.