Say, did Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson deserve that contract extension?
Let’s survey some of our favorite hockey scribes to see what they think:
Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun: “Among the NHL’s respected coaching fraternity, only Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff, Nashville’s Barry Trotz, Detroit’s Mike Babcock, Boston’s Claude Julien and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault have longer tenure with their teams than Toronto’s Ron Wilson. Each of those five men have led their respective squads to at least two playoff berths since Wilson was hired by the Maple Leafs in 2008. Wilson hasn’t done it once. And if that doesn’t change come April, the controversial, head-scratching decision to rework Wilson’s contract right now will be directly on the shoulders of general manager Brian Burke. When Burke confirmed that Wilson’s Christmas morning tweet about getting an extension was indeed accurate, many critics felt as if Jolly St. Nick had dropped lumps of coal in their collective stockings.”
Mike Brophy, Rogers Sportsnet: “Wilson certainly has his detractors who will go completely nuts with 'I-told-you-sos' if this team doesn't make the playoffs now. It really is hard to imagine any coach still being behind the bench after four years on the sidelines at playoff time. It would also help his cause to get the NHL's 30th ranked penalty kill operating at a better success rate. Then again, four of the players who can help make that happen - defenceman Mike Komisarek and forwards Mike Brown, Colby Armstrong and Matthew Lombardi - are injured. If you buy into the theory this year's team is the best and only one Wilson has had in Toronto with realistic playoff potential, then the signing makes perfect sense. Based on the way the Leafs played prior to the break, it's hard to imagine things taking a sudden nosedive.”
Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo! Sports: “Logically, Ron Wilson shouldn't return for a fifth year of the Toronto Maple Leafs miss the playoffs again. This contract extension doesn't mean he will — hell, it's not like Burke's paying him out of pocket — but it at least increases the chances it could happen. Even with this team seemingly on the upswing, some accountability has to be taken for the inability of an Original Six franchise to qualify for the postseason on an annual basis. Burke's move here signals he believes this is a team that will qualify for the playoffs and void any calls for Wilson's noggin. If they don't, is could be a signal he's back again, performance be damned; or, based on the last 24 hours, we're betting on Memorial Day or July 4 for the "so long and thanks for all the fish" tweet from Ronnie.”
Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: “Let the season play out. If you’re Burke, and you’re that confident in Wilson, then doing this in February or March would have been fine. After all, if you know now that Wilson is your guy, what possibly could change in a couple of months? Here’s the rub with the timing of the extension: It would have been plenty more understandable had the Leafs been running away with the Eastern Conference through 35 games. But they’re not close to that. The standings are so tight that, had the Leafs lost their final two games before the break, they would be outside of a playoff berth.”