Burke: Wilson “Safe” as Leafs Coach

Burke: Wilson “Safe” as Leafs Coach

Chris Young/Canadian Press

Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star reports that the job of  Ron Wilson remains safe for the moment as the Head Coach received yet another vote of confidence from GM Brian Burke. Wilson has drawn the ire of Leafs Nation on a number of occasions over the past couple seasons every time the team has gone into any sort of prolonged struggle, but Burke remained steadfast in his support for his friend:

“I’m told (Wilson) got blasted in the media today. Let me ask you a question. Did Ron play poorly last night? No. Why don’t you guys focus on the players who played poorly last night instead of questioning the coach? It’s a very bizarre twist to this market place that when players play poorly, the coach gets hollered at. This is new for me. In Vancouver when the players played poorly, the players got blasted so I’m perplexed by this.”

So in Vancouver… the fans are tougher on the players than the coach… Interesting. On a completely unrelated note, here’s what Burke had to say about the fans booing Dion Phaneuf:

“All the time I worked in Vancouver I don’t think I ever had a player booed.”

Well, I’m stumped. Anyways…

By laying the blame primarily on the team’s on-ice product, it’s patently clear that Burke is itching to make a move to upgrade his roster. With both “cap room and budget room” created by the Finger demotion, the club is listening in intently on any possible trade talks around the league. There were rumors swirling a few weeks ago regarding a smaller depth move to pick up a bottom six forward with some size or jam ala Blake Wheeler or David Clarkson, but club’s #1 priority remains the search for a bonafide top line pivot to complement Kessel.

Your say: when should Wilson’s job be in jeopardy? And which candidates would be in consideration to take over?

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From Matt Bracken:

To steal the immortal words of Jerry Maguire “Don’t worry, I am not gonna do what you all think I’m gonna do, which is, you know, FLIP out!” but you could almost hear the collective groan of Leafs nation when Buffalo Sabre forward Jochen Hecht scored at the 19:46 mark of the third period last night to tie the score at two goals apiece.  An awful shootout performance later and the Buds ultimately went on to lose the game 3-2 to the Sabres.   The Leafs hadn’t played a flawless game by any means but they weren’t at their absolute worst either and probably deserved the much needed two points that were up for grabs. 

It was a finish that was all too familiar to Leafs fans from last season when coughing up leads late into the third period became almost an expected event.  The fact is the Leafs are clearly in a tailspin and since winning the first four games of the 2010/11 season have had the following results:

October 18th, 2010 2-1 loss (OT) vs. N.Y. Islanders
October 21st, 2010 2-1 loss vs. N.Y. Rangers
October 23rd, 2010 5-2 loss @ Philadelphia
October 26th, 2010 3-1 win vs. Florida
October 28th, 2010 2-0 loss @ Boston
October 30th, 2010 2-0 loss vs. N.Y. Rangers
November 2nd, 2010 3-2 loss vs. Ottawa
November 3rd, 2010 5-4 loss (OT) @ Washington
November 6th, 2010 3-2 loss (OT) vs. Buffalo

A nine game stretch with only one set of back-to-back games and six of nine games on home ice which has seen only one regulation time victory, three overtime/shootout losses and five regulation time losses – gaining only five out of a possible eighteen points.  The Leafs scored 15 goals (1.6 per game) and gave up 24 (2.6 per game) over the past nine games and there special teams haven’t been overly impressive:

Opponent PP PK
NYI 1/3 2/3
NYR 0/5 2/2
@PHI 0/3 3/4
FLA 1/2 2/3
@BOS 0/5 2/3
NYR 0/3 2/2
OTT 1/5 3/5
@WAS 1/4 2/4
BUF 0/2 3/3
Totals 4/32 (12.5%) 21/29 (72%)

As you can see the power play has been anything but powerful and the early season penalty killing efficiency has suddenly looked less effective overall.  We can’t panic after only 13 games into an NHL season but at some point this ship needs to be righted as the Leafs are stumbling badly and now sit at 5-5-3 on the year – alone in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

What adjustments, roster moves or strategy changes do the Leafs need to make in your opinion?  Is it a matter of continued patience and hard work or is the obvious weakness (scoring) started to rear its ugly head over the past nine contests?

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Alex has been a part of the original MLHS team since way back in 2008. He has contributed to the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals with a special interest in junior hockey and player development.

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