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Should Ron Wilson Be Fired?

from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,

The chants started just after Jason Garrison scored the fourth goal for the Florida Panthers early in the third period.

The chant was, “Fire Wilson.”

Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson is an easy target. He’s not outwardly warm and can be sarcastic and caustic, and he has yet to guide the Maple Leafs to the playoffs since being hired in 2008. Everyone, it seems, wants him fired, including the fans at the ACC Tuesday night.

Personally, I don’t buy into the sentiment that Wilson is the main or only problem with this Leafs team, or that the players have stopped playing for him — which was the theory being kicked around the ACC press box Tuesday night. Wilson doesn’t play goal and he surely doesn’t order Luke Schenn to give the puck away pathetically once a game. And there have been many games this season when the Leafs have actually outplayed the opposition for the much of the game and lost, which was the case in their 5-3 defeat to the Panthers Tuesday night.

But since Burke did absolutely nothing to help this team get over the hump and make playoffs for the first time since 2004, perhaps the fans are right. Perhaps it is time to fire Wilson.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ron+wilson



You know he is a dumb, loud mouth, Yank! If you need more reasons, he is mean, hates the Toronto media and yells alot. He is biased against Kadri, has demoralized Schenn, played Reimer in Boston, hates his own mother, the Canadian military and he smothers kittens! Most of all he hates old men dressed in drag, who think they own the game of hockey.

Posted by timbits on 02/29/12 at 02:30 AM ET

DocF's avatar

Wilson should go right after Burke is moved to restroom attendant.  His work as GM in Toronto has been underwhelming.  Wilson is also not the right guy behind the bench for that team.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 02/29/12 at 03:17 AM ET

awould's avatar

Every article I read about the Leafs and their quest to assume their rightful place at the top always blames everybody and nobody all at the same time. If it is Burke’s fault, then it’s also the coach and the players. If it isn’t Wilson’s fault, then you can’t blame the team or the GM! Schenn sucks but look how he’s treated!

Some actual accountability might be a good first step.

Posted by awould on 02/29/12 at 03:19 AM ET


Ron Wilson should never have been hired in the first place.

Same goes for Burke.

Posted by Garth on 02/29/12 at 03:21 AM ET

mmuskrat's avatar

I’ve thought about it this way; Burke is doing a relatively good job, especially with the culture of the franchise.  I like that he doesn’t play games with players’ heads, he gives short, reasonable contract extensions to his players, and just asks that they earn it.  Despite a few over-discussed missteps, he’s doing okay.

HOWEVER, if he continues to stand behind Wilson, it goes beyond loyalty and respectability, to just plain bad judgement.  Wilson does not show respect to players when he calls them out publicly, he doesn’t show respect to his goaltenders by putting no faith in them for more than two starts in a row, he’s rude, argumentative, and(while I’m not in the locker room) seems to have lost the players’ commitment. 

I can’t believe we have two positive and genuinely hard-working goalies, and they’re being treated like ameteurs, getting “rewired”(read: ruined) by the narrow Allaire, and made to battle for starts amid harsh public criticism from Wilson.

Add on to that the facts: when few wins, frequent third-period busts, and bottom-dwelling special teams describe four years of coaching, it’s time to try something new.  Few teams in the NHL have as much empirical evidence, outside of just not liking a guy, to fire a head coach.

Posted by mmuskrat on 02/29/12 at 03:41 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Why can’t people just look up and down the roster and go “Yup…. they’re not a good team”...?

It really is that simple.

Posted by Primis on 02/29/12 at 10:05 AM ET

WingMan's avatar

@Primis This roster is good enough to make the playoffs… easily.  Problem is they are mismanaged by the coach.  It’s all been said here, but with a young team you have to give positive reinforcement, and it looks like there is none.  The team does not play with any passion anymore, which is the one thing the coach has to get out of them.

It is obvious he needs to go, why not now?  Nothing to lose this season considering where they stand at the moment.  This little team USA coaching crew thing is failing badly and if not changed might cost Burke his job.

Like some have said, I don’t think people realize the mess Burke had to clean up in the overall organization (on ice was a small part).  He has done a great job at that so far, but the team he has put together is better than it is showing and that falls on the coach.  I’m not saying they are great, but they should be a 6-7-8 place team.  Inconsistent goaltending has hurt but what team, knowing they have non-confident goalies gives up 2 two-on-ones in the first three minutes of a game?  Frig, help a guy out here…  let him make an easy save or two to get into the groove…

Seems simple to me, if Wilson is not fired this team might end up with a lottery pick.  If he is, they still might but at least there will be a new direction on the ice and something to perhaps be positive about for the rest of the season.  Cannot believe it will be another season out of the playoffs.  Just plain embarrassing now :-(

Remember, new owners in the chair come June…

Posted by WingMan from The Q C on 02/29/12 at 10:35 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I really don’t see that TOR team as being playoff-worthy.  They have no actual #1 Center, they’re fairly flaky on the wings, their Bottom 6 don’t strike fear into anyone (look at the +/- on those guys) , and their d-corps is composed of numerous overrated guys who don’t work well together.  Their goalies are probably realistically two good NHL backups but neither of them an NHL starter.

There’s a lot going against them, even in East that’s weaker than the West.

Posted by Primis on 02/29/12 at 10:53 AM ET


Most of all he hates old men dressed in drag, who think they own the game of hockey.

that is funny.

the media hates wilson.  i think he is doing the best he can with what he has.  He has a star in kessel, and a over-achiever in Lupul, and has a bunch of supporting cast type of players.  Its not like Wilson is sending a team like the Kings, Pens, Wings, Flyers, or Sharks over the boards.  He has a team that should be fighting for last place in the conference, and guess what… they are fighting for last place in the conference.

His goalies have been playing like crap lately, and he called them out on it.  good for him.  Toronto media think that they should be in the finals every year and anything else is not acceptable.  Well they simply do not have a team yet that is built to win it all.  Is that wilsons fault?

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 02/29/12 at 11:31 AM ET

mmuskrat's avatar

Like I said, there are a few obvious weaknesses that surely make Wilson’s job not the easiest in the league, but it’s those clear, measurable, coaching-influenced things that are wilson’s fault that I think show that he has to go.  Coaches organize the powerplay and penalty kill, they motivate their young players, they help a team avoid huge slumps, they create opportunities for success.  They keep the team ahead when they’re ahead.  All of these things Wilson has failed to do in a measurable way.

Posted by mmuskrat on 02/29/12 at 11:44 AM ET


I really don’t see that TOR team as being playoff-worthy.  They have no actual #1 Center, they’re fairly flaky on the wings, their Bottom 6 don’t strike fear into anyone (look at the +/- on those guys) , and their d-corps is composed of numerous overrated guys who don’t work well together.  Their goalies are probably realistically two good NHL backups but neither of them an NHL starter.

There’s a lot going against them, even in East that’s weaker than the West.

This. Oh and they do have a #1 center. His name is Tyler Seguin.

If you want to fire someone in Toronto, Ron Wilson and Brian Burke are a good start but after them why not fire the media and the fans who create a ridiculously brutal environment into which no free agent in his right mind would enter?

Posted by From The Hockey Wastelands from Cleveland on 02/29/12 at 12:23 PM ET

TheFreak's avatar

Not to sound like I’m defending Ron Wilson, because I don’t care one way or another, but I’d vote for the Toronto media establishment getting fired for the insidious drivel they continue to publish.

Posted by TheFreak on 02/29/12 at 12:24 PM ET


While, as a Sens fan, I take great joy in seeing the Buds struggle, I have to disagree with the above assessments that they’re not a playoff team. They sure were for about 50 games this season. Suddenly they’re not?

Having said that, I don’t know that it’s as simple as waving a wand and getting rid of Wilson.

His goalies have been playing like crap lately, and he called them out on it.  good for him.

While I’m all for holding players accountable, I don’t think doing so through the media, in the manner in which Wilson did, is productive. I’ve never seen the great coaches do it like that. And if they did, it was with proven guys who have established well to that criticism in that form.

Reimer is obviously shaky mentally right now. For better or worse, he’s what they have, so Wilson should be trying to build the guy up, not tear him down.

In terms of their goaltending, it seems like Wilson and Burke are on completely separate pages. Wilson is ripping them in the media, Burke is talking about how the organization has faith in them (going so far as to suggest teams were calling about Reimer, a laughable idea). Which is it? Based on what Wilson said last week I was sure the Leafs were gonna go out and get a goalie, yet Burke stood pat. I know he sort of flirted with the idea in the press, but you can’t go halfway with it.

As for Burke, I think he needs to take some blame too. While he’s done well on the trade front, a lot of free agent signings have not worked. Komisarek is making more than $4 million and is a healthy scratch, and then, in his first game back last night, gets beat on one of the early goals. Colby Armstrong at $3 million? Tim Connolly at $4.5 million? Colton Orr? All awful decisions.

And while people talk about their “deep” prospect pool, I don’t see one potential difference maker in the bunch. Kadri? Colbourne? C’mon.

Posted by Chris from Ottawa on 02/29/12 at 12:29 PM ET


I agree with Primis
“Yup…. they’re not a good team”

For those that say they are a playoff team because they started the year off good all they have to do is look at last year’s Atlanta Thrashers who started off great and then fizzled. Youth and average players can’t compete when the going gets tough. Leafs are overrated by their GM, media and fans, they are not that good of a team. They have a few good offensive players and a lot of weak spots. The Leaf top 4 on defense is about a weak a top 4 as any team in the league. The goaltending doesn’t have a chance with the constant giveaways by the guys skating in front of them. I don’t watch the Leafs on a nightly basis but from what I have seen, if I owned the team at the end of regular season I would fire Wilson, Burke and Nonis and get someone else in charge. Burke overvalues his own players, that is why he couldn’t make a significant trade at the deadline, he actually thinks they are good and the guys he wants to trade are not good and every GM knows it except Burke. Wilson may not be a great coach but he really doesn’t have a good group to work with. The defense is just awful and that is Burke’s doing. Sorry Leafs fans but this team needs some major reworking.

Posted by Puckbubba from FL. on 02/29/12 at 01:52 PM ET

WingMan's avatar

You guys are comparing Toronto to the likes of Boston, Detroit etc.  Those teams are in another class, you know the one going to the Cup.  Toronto is in the class of teams going for a playoff spot - competing against the likes of FLA, WPG, OTT, NYI, NJD.  None of those teams are good, but their coaches (esp Ottawa) have them playing well, consistent and hard every night.

All I am saying is, I believe this group of players would have more success with a different coach.  Someone who actually talks to his players, someone who is focused on all the small details… and someone who can motivate, encourage and direct the young players on the roster.  I watch every game, and I don’t see the leadership required from Wilson.

Now, if you change the coach, and things remain the same… THEN you make roster moves.  But I am not sure we know how good this group could be.  I think we have seen the extremes in both directions, but I don’t know if we have seen them just be what they really are.

Posted by WingMan from The Q C on 02/29/12 at 02:16 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

I’m having trouble remembering when the last time the Toronto media collectively had anything nice to say about the Leafs….
Was it 1964

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 02/29/12 at 03:22 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Why can’t people just look up and down the roster and go “Yup…. they’re not a good team”...?[/i

This.  Is what I’ve said all along.  When you play fire-wagon hockey, with playoff desperation, and pick up a bunch of wins in October and November, you might not be the playoff team that you look like.
Those goalies are terrible, and the fact that there is no team D makes it even worse.  But they are awful.
The media and fanbase are complete pirannhas that make everyone’s life tougher.
Is Wilson a good coach?  Doesn’t seem like it.  But like CBJ, they never had a chance; you need a goalie.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 02/29/12 at 03:42 PM ET


Toronto could (or could have) been a playoff team. They may not have a #1 Center, but they’ve got enough depth scoring to get by (although, looking just now, Kulemin has 7 goals, which is competely unacceptable for a player of his talent).

Toronto’s bigger problem is on D. They’ve got a couple good puck movers, but nobody capable of cleaning up their own end. Whether that’s due to bad team D from coaching or bad personnel, I have no idea.

Posted by larry from pitt on 02/29/12 at 04:59 PM ET

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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.

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