If the NHL handed out awards for half seasons,Â would there be any doubt that Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson would be among a handful of candidates for Coach of the Year for the second half of this NHL season?Â After suffering a 3-2 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 30th, 2010 the Leafs record sat at an uninspiring 13-19-4.Â Much of the blame for that record was placed squarely on the shoulders of our at timesÂ moody head coach.
I donâ€™t recall a post game (win or lose) theme that didnâ€™t in some shape or form include vast criticism of our coaching staff and the inevitable â€œFire Ron Wilsonâ€ mantra.Â Some of that critique might have been warranted but when considering the goaltending available to him to that point it is hard to solely blame one man (Ron Wilson) for the first half struggles of an entire team.
I recall our old colour commentator Harry Neale being asked what he thought made a great coach and he shrewdly remarked â€œgreat playersâ€.Â Now I know the topic of firing Ron Wilson has been beat to death but I wanted to further comment after reading a story from our friends over at Pension Plan Puppets who feel he should absolutely be fired now.
It was an entertaining piece â€œWhy Ron Wilson Should Get Fired ASAPâ€Â asking a tough question and answering unequivocally:
â€œThe question isn’t whether Ron Wilson is or isn’t a good coach. The question is will replacing Ron Wilson improve our record? If the answer is “yes”, obviously, we should do it as soon as possible. But how can we know?Â This got me to thinking, maybe there’s some historical evidence to shed some light on this issue.â€
With the typical (and expected) â€œFire Ron Wilsonâ€ sentiment being thrown around after another tough loss (now five in a row) I thought I would enter the fray and share my opinion on the matter.Â It is often easy to blame the coach and the old adage â€œitâ€™s easier to fire one coach than 20 playersâ€ has certainly been applied in the NHL over the past 25 years but in the case of the Maple Leafs, is the coach really to blame?
I had written a story in the preseason that one of the potential problems I saw going into this year was the chance that Brian Burkeâ€™s general strategy really wouldnâ€™t mesh well with the roster given to Ron Wilson.Â The whole top-six and bottom-six forward approach is fine in theory when you have Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Marcus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and a prime Todd Bertuzzi at your disposal â€“ or Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne etc.