Suhonen, the Finnish national coach from 1982 through '86, has directed several plays over the years, and in '90 he left his job as a Winnipeg Jets assistant to become the artistic director for Finland's nationally renowned Turku Theater. Three seasons later he had a return engagement with the Jets.
"Sometimes an actor will have excellent technique but he's missing something inside," says Suhonen. "Same thing in hockey. Some players have great tools, but they're missing something that keeps them from being dominant. What you have to look at is the performer's emotional state."
With a new coaching staff, the resurgent Leafs had a 21-14-2 record through Sunday. For his part Quinn is pleased to have Suhonen expounding his theories. "They can be very useful," Quinn says, "but, of course, actors don't usually have somebody ready to pound them on the nose and take the puck."
You Make Your Own Bad Breaks
No hockey executive has had a sorrier last 18 months than Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke, chief saboteur of his team's championship hopes. Since Philadelphia was swept in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals by the Red Wings, Clarke has replaced two coaches and made several misguided trades that not only have weakened the Flyers' still formidable lineup but also contributed to dressing-room dissension.
In August 1997 he signed Lightning restricted free-agent center Chris Gratton to a five-year, $16.5 million deal that included a $9 million bonus. Instead of compensating Tampa Bay with four first-round draft choices as stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement, he worked out a deal in which Philadelphia sent talented winger Mikael Renberg and stay-at-home defenseman Karl Dykhuis to the Lightning. Last month Clarke traded Gratton, who scored only 23 goals in his 1� seasons in Philly, back to Tampa Bay for Renberg.
Clearly unafraid to admit a mistake, Clarke last week reacquired Dykhuis for popular veteran defenseman Petr Svoboda. Several Flyers met that trade with arched eyebrows and found Clarke's justification odd: He said that while Svoboda was a lay-it-on-the-line player who was prone to injuries, "Dykhuis never gets hurt."
Apparently the hockey gods decided to exact revenge on Clarke for his string of blunders. In Dykhuis's first game back with the Flyers, he was struck by a stick and suffered a broken cheekbone. He's sidelined indefinitely.