June 20, 2011
Where did we leave things at the end of the season with Toronto Maple Leafs Coach Ron Wilson's reputation?
Was he being considered the misunderstood architect of an impressive Toronto playoff push that came up eight points short?
Or was he still being seen as an unsuccessful bumbler who only remained tethered to the franchise through his close relationship with its general manager?
Really, without the benefit of a flow chart, it's difficult to keep up with these things ...
One thing's clear: When Damian Cox of the Toronto Star reported that Wilson wouldn't get any years added to his contract this summer — with his current deal expiring on June 30, 2012 — he could be considered a "lame duck" for the upcoming season.
Which makes today's news really interesting: GM Brian Burke announced that assistant coaches Keith Acton and Tim Hunter have not been retained, and that former New York Islanders Coach Scott Gordon and former Northeastern University coach Greg Cronin have been added to the staff.
Cronin, 48, was suspended in February as head coach of the men's team at Northeastern University for alleged NCAA violations related to the recruitment of prospective student-athletes.
Cronin led the team to their first consecutive seasons of .500 or better since the mid-'90s. He served as the head coach of the American Hockey League's Bridgeport Tigers from 2003 to 2005, following a five-year stint as assistant coach with the New York Islanders.
Gordon, 48, is a former head coach of the New York Islanders (2008-10) and the U.S. national team in 2010-11. He was an assistant coach on Wilson's silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic team in 2010.
Immediate speculation is, of course, that either assistant could be a fallback should Wilson get the gate during the season. Which is a real Negative Nelly way of looking at this move by Burke, who is obviously doing whatever he can to make the Leafs successful and keep Wilson in a job.
Burke specifically said today that improving special teams was a focus, as the Leafs were 22nd on the power play (16 percent) and 28th on the kill (77.5 percent).
So how long do you give Ron Wilson this year? Will he survive to another contract extension?