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Beverley Bows Out As Leafs Coach

April 29, 1996 GMT

TORONTO (AP) _ So much for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season. And so much for Nick Beverley’s coaching experience.

Beverley, who had worked in relative anonymity in the front office before replacing Pat Burns in early March, returns to his old job of director of scouting and player personnel.

His first NHL coaching experience was an eye-opener for the 48-year-old Beverley, a former NHL defenseman who was 9-6-2 as coach of the Maple Leafs during the regular season and 2-4 in the playoffs.

And it was an eye-opener for his players. The outspoken Beverley never held back his thoughts when he felt his team played badly.

At one point, he referred to his players as ``nimrods″ -- actually a complimentary term. The dictionary describes a ``Nimrod″ as a ``mighty hunter.″

Team Nimrod _ it was an easy nickname to use to describe the inconsistent Maple Leafs.

``I feel badly,″ Beverley said after losing the first-round series to St. Louis in six games. ``I feel we should have got through this series, and we didn’t.″

The St. Louis series was ``an example of how the season had gone in terms of the team having the overall tenacity to stay with what we knew we had to do to be successful.″

Toronto was 34-36-12, tied for 13th place overall during the regular season.

The Maple Leafs starting play poorly in January and never got their game back to his satisfaction.

``You expect every team is going to have a slump a couple of times during the season,″ he said Sunday as he sat behind the coach’s desk adjacent to the dressing room for one of the last times. ``When our slump began nobody ever got a grip on why it got a life of its own.

``The further it went the more difficult it got for Burnsie and the coaching staff, and the confidence of the players dropped right off the face of the earth. That’s where it started, right there, and we never really got it back together.″

He had fun but, when the Blues prevailed in the playoffs, ``The fun got sucked out of like a big vacuum.″

Only a handful of players showed up at the Gardens. Most will clean out their belongings today.

``It was pretty quiet,″ left wing Todd Warriner said of the plane ride home from St. Louis. ``Everyone kind of kept to himself and his own thoughts. Everybody was down with the way things went.″

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Warriner was quick to adopt an off-season attitude.

``Maybe we didn’t perform up to expectations everybody set for us but the guys can leave feeling good about themselves,″ he said. ``There are a lot of established players here who have no reason to feel bad about this year affecting their careers in any way.

``I learned a great deal and I have tremendous respect for every one of my teammates.″