Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Damien Cox in the Toronto Star,
Look, Cliff Fletcher stated categorically on April 7 he wouldn’t be the one to fire Paul Maurice. A month after that, he contradicted himself and fired Maurice, saying it was his job to “clear the decks” so the next GM could make his own choice.
And yesterday? Why Fletcher contradicted himself again and hired a coach to a huge, long-term deal, thus clogging up the decks again. Best to write down things the man says in pencil, methinks.
Wilson’s a good coach, but Maurice was a good coach, too, and good coaches can’t overcome lousy, overpaid players, misguided and/or short-sighted management and clueless, fixated-on-23-per-cent-return owners who think tradition is celebrating Tie Domi’s 1,000th game.
Not that it was exactly a secret before this moment, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have formally announced their contract agreement with Ron Wilson. Press conference is being carried live now and can be seen at this link.
More on Wilson at Mike Ulmer’s blog at TorontoMapleLeafs.com, who shares his thoughts on the new coach.
At THN, Adam Proteau provides some analysis on the links between this and Brian Burke rumors:
Really, there can be no more doubt as to who Toronto’s targeting for the GM position. If the team wanted a “proven winner,” it would’ve/should’ve hired Craig Patrick or Neil Smith by now.
The fact they haven’t, combined with Burke’s unwillingness to sign a contract extension after the Ducks prevented him from even talking to the Leafs’ GM search committee –which I believe is currently being jointly sponsored by O.J. Simpson and Iraqis For Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction – tells you all you need to know.
Note: David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail also had thoughts on this yesterday
Update 4:01pm ET: Sharkspage provides a partial transcript of Wilson’s remarks today.
All the news from Spector:
Thankfully we’ll know in about three weeks what Sundin will do, putting an end to months of speculation over his future. I still have my doubts that the Leafs will buyout Tucker but I am convinced Raycroft will be bought out. As for Redden, why would the Leafs want him?
From Mike Brophy at The Hockey News:
Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs conduct business is always an interesting proposition.
Unlike watching a well-oiled success story like the Detroit Red Wings, a team that hires well, scouts well and gets the desired results, the Leafs are more like watching a drunken sailor on leave trying to weave his way through traffic while traveling westbound on Highway 401 East – on a bicycle.
plus more on the Leafs… if you’re up for that.
From Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star,
“An opportunity to coach a team, an Original Six team, is very intriguing to me,” said Wilson. “It’s a team that I began with, I kind of feel like I might have an opportunity to complete the circle. A team that maybe right now is ... in a little bit of disarray. And I’ve functioned very well in helping those teams get on the right path.
“With what lies ahead for the Leafs, having to go a lot younger, and all the situations that are going to happen with transition, I think I’ve been able with my experience to kind of navigate through all that. Hopefully I can get the Leafs turned around in short order.”
From Lance Hornby at the Toronto Sun,
Local TV stations have been running clips of Ron Wilson snapping at the media to underline the thorny side of the projected new coach of the Maple Leafs.
Wilson has coached more than 1,000 games, all in what can be termed non-traditional hockey markets: Anaheim, Washington and San Jose. Sensitive to being second-guessed, even for an NHL coach, Wilson never has faced four newspapers and four all-sports electronic outlets on a daily basis—and that would be just daily practices.
But Cliff Fletcher, who hopes to have Wilson under contract by Monday, is confident his man won’t burn in the atmosphere of the alleged centre of the hockey universe.
more odds & ends on the Leafs
Note: Tonight, TSN states that Fletcher and Wilson are set to meet again Sunday to iron out some issues, with the likelihood they’ll announce a 4-year term for Wilson within days.
Update 10:01am ET June 8th: Ron Wilson has reportedly been hired, but with the formal announcement expected on Tuesday.
Update 3:23pm ET June 8th: From the CP via the Globe & Mail,
“We have a verbal agreement but nothing’s on paper yet,” Leafs interim GM Cliff Fetcher told The Canadian Press on Sunday. “It isn’t a contract until it’s signed by the parties. And that won’t happen for a couple of days.”
From Joe O’Connor at the National Post,
He gave both men [Brian Burke and Ron Wilson] their first big breaks in the NHL back when he was the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks. Quinn met Burke well before that, in 1977, when Burke was a player and he was the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Maine Mariners.
“Brian really took a shine to me,” he said. “I think he liked that I was someone who would always give him an honest answer.”
Burke lasted one season with Maine before deciding law school was a better idea. He was reborn afterwards as a hard bargaining players’ agent, just as NHL salaries were rocketing to the moon. And a lot of hockey people didn’t like it when Quinn recruited failed minor league pro to work for him in Vancouver in 1987.
From Brian Biggane at the Palm Beach Post,
Panthers General Manager Jacques Martin said today that he has received permission to speak with former Toronto coach Paul Maurice about the vacant Florida coaching job.
Martin, speaking by phone just before the NHL general managers meetings in Detroit, said the permission came from interim Toronto GM Cliff Fletcher about two weeks ago, when Fletcher called to inquire about the services of Joe Nieuwendyk.
From David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail,
Cliff Fletcher confirmed on Monday the Toronto Maple Leafs offered their head coach’s job to someone but did not identify him.
However, the only coach the Leafs spoke to recently was former San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. The Leafs recently asked for permission to talk to Wilson.
“We’re in negotiations,” Fletcher said before leaving an NHL GMs’ meeting to catch a plane.
He said they have spoken to only one coach about the job.
Update 4:48pm ET: Some thoughts on Fletcher’s future from Kevin McGran in the Toronto Star,
In an apparent about-face from what had been the Leafs stance since he replaced John Ferguson, it seems Fletcher is in the job for the long haul.
“Am I interested in keeping it? No, but I’m prepared to continue as long as necessary until they issues is resolved favourably for our board,” said Fletcher. “I’m committed to doing whatever I can to get the Maple Leafs going in the right direction and I’ll continue to do so.”
from Marty Henwood at Hockey.com,
Think of it this way. Sundin could sign in Detroit and be part of another charge for a Cup from opening day. IKEA could set up corporate offices in Joe Louis Arena. ABBA belts out the national anthem each night. Victoria Silvstedt could join the Wings staff, as, uh, well, as whatever she wants, really.
Welcome to Stockholm, USA.
Or Sundin could stay in Toronto, wallow in mediocrity for another seven months and - get this - take Leaf management up on their rather dubious offer.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com