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When does Burke announce the contract extension for Ron Wilson?

I am among those who have wondered why Ron Wilson so often comes across in a sour fashion in his public discourse with the local Toronto media.  But as I’ve posted many times here, he is a successful, longstanding NHL coach with a track record of success, including in the playoffs—something he hasn’t been able to take part in during his time in Toronto.

I’ve also mentioned on various occasions that the team, until recently, was well into its third year under Wilson and had not really progressed in a consistent manner in a lot of key areas, including special teams and, let’s face it, the ever-essential win-loss record.

Now, every living, breathing Leaf fans knows that the biggest difference in the bottom line performance of this team in the last five or so weeks is the performance of James Reimer.  But along with that has come a hot streak for Phil Kessel, the emergence of Keith Aulie, the continued progression of Luke Schenn and a line (MacArthur, Grabovski and Kulemin) that plays well together and has been a consistent source of offense for much of the season.

Throw in role guys playing their guts out and, well, that equals points in any league.

So yes, great goaltending (and I’m not sure what other word we can use right now but great) can make a coach look a lot smarter, and a lot better.  But given that the Leafs have lost, what is it, one game in regulation time in the last 16 or so games, this is a team that is clearly on a roll.  They are confident and are surging toward a playoff spot.

We don’t know if they will get there, but when you see things like Boyce’s goal on Thursday night in Philadelphia, Reimer’s remarkable save after the Aulie give-away with only 20 seconds or so left, the contributions of guys like Crabb and Brent most nights  (guys who weren’t even in the team’s plan last fall), you can just feel that something is happening.

This is no guarantee of success next season or beyond, but for the moment, maybe the key is enjoying what is happening right now, rather than thinking about some future draft pick that may make the team better, some day.

The Leafs are playing consistent, hard, steady hockey against good teams—right now.

As for Wilson, while I can live without his condescending demeanor toward the press, the team has, their recent performance demonstrates, “improved” under his watch this season.  So, does he get an extension?  Does he deserve one?

And does Burke pull the trigger now, when the team is indeed hot and feeling good?

We all know there had been tons of speculation just a few short weeks ago that Wilson could be replaced this coming summer, despite his longstanding relationship with Burke.

But now, the team is in a different place.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see Burke jump on this good feeling to extend Wilson right now, and put any discussions to rest before the coach goes into a lame duck season in 2011-’12.

In the interim, Leaf fans can just feel good.  It’s been a while since this has been the feeling in Leafland— in March.


  1. He'll give him a contract extension when Ronnie gets the power play going. 0 for 7? Ouch!

  2. I've noticed a change in Wilson's - (and the team's) - demeanor since the Kessel blow up a few weeks ago. He's more animated behind the bench, and he's more relaxed in press scrums - often complimenting his players. The whole team feels like it's come together.
    And I think we should add the contribution of Dion Phaneuf. Sure, he's made mistakes - like all defencemen do - but ever since he arrived, there's been a growing intensity and toughness to this team that simply wasn't there before. And in the last few games he's been magnificent - a real team leader. I've also often sung the praises of Armstrong, Brent, Crabb and Boyce. They've contributed a lot to making the Leafs a tougher team to play against.
    It's been a great few weeks, slaying the dragons of Boston (where Kessel scored 2), Buffalo, Montreal (and Carey Price), the Pens and now Flyers. Whether it continues or not, I think it justifies the patience I've been preaching about this year - and reminding myself of on a regular basis!

  3. Scott, thanks. The power play has had its moments, though no results last night! We'll see where it goes from here. The good news seems to be the overall jump is there, and that, with good goaltending, equals points.

    Gerund O...Phaneuf does seem to be more an an impact guy of late. And the "lesser lights" sure are providing jump.

    Patience, indeed.

    I'll be interested to see Wilson's demeanor if the team hits a speed bump. We'll see if the change you reference is permanent!

  4. Yes - maybe it will be back to stone-faced Ron if we start losing a few. But it was noticeable when he suddenly started praising players - that thing with Kessel, and the resulting sitdown w/ Burke & Wilson, seems to mark a sea change in the team.
    I can't quite figure out why the departure of Versteeg, Beauchemin and Kaberle has resulted in such improved play, but it has. Even Komisarek is starting to look like his old pre-injury self. (That shoulder must be OK if it survived that collision with Phaneuf last night).
    The best thing is that it's exciting to watch the Leafs again!