Friday, March 2, 2012

Ron Wilson Fired as Head Coach of Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs logo
With fewer than 20 games to go in the 2011/12 regular season and with the Toronto Maple Leafs shrieking head-first towards earth without a parachute, the likelihood of missing the playoffs for the 7th consecutive year hammering towards them like a semi-trailer truck traveling at 100 miles an hour with the driver dead of a heart attack slumped at the wheel, Brian Burke has finally fired Ron Wilson.

Proof once again that pressure can never fully by resisted, even by the biggest blowhard of a GM in the NHL.

Cringe-worthy Behaviour

Wilson contract extension tweet
Most sane people cringed when Burke, in a  bizarre move, handed Wilson the right to announce his own contract extension. Wilson chose Christmas day 2011 to make his smug  announcement on Twitter. Strange decision by Burke and disrespectful to fans.

But every criticism directed against the Leafs this year has been brushed aside by both Burke and Wilson. They seemed consumed with their hatred of the Toronto hockey media and used this to justify just about everything.

The fans wanted to see Wilson fired? According to Burke, that is because the media has presented Wilson in a negative light. It's got nothing to do with the horrid special teams, the inability to motivate players, or the abysmal slide the Leafs are on that sees them with the worst record in the NHL in the past ten games.

So what finally pushed Burke to pull the trigger on Wilson? Perhaps the realization that his own job may be at risk as his fourth season as Leafs GM draws to a close. With little success to point to and numerous failed signings and questionable moves, the self-preservation impulse likely kicked in.

Or maybe Wilson provided all the justification Burke needed when Wilson dared to offer up a borderline criticism of Burke:

“Everybody is frustrated right now. We did not do anything at the trade deadline and we came out tentative, to say the least, and got behind early.”

This after the Leafs lost 4-2 to the Washington Capitals after the trade deadline had passed without any significant moves by Burke.

In Burke's arrogant, self-serving world, he establishes the goal posts and moves them at will. He offers up deflections, excuses and insults to journalists who aren't appropriately deferential.

When Burke said the negative pressure was now off and insinuated that the Leafs were ready to start winning, the subsequent losses coupled with Wilson's subtle jab were likely enough to provoke Burke to take action.

Wilson has got his 1400th game as an NHL coach and a nice fat contract extension/severance package to ease the pain of being sacked.

But have the Leafs got enough time and the necessary tools to claw their way back into a playoff position?

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