Fire Ron Wilson now!
I actually mean that. Not that I care too much, but I don't see any great downside, other than some less entertaining press conferences and a reduced likelihood of players being publicly hung out to dry about twice a week, which I enjoy.
And this is to say we're not convinced one way or the other that coaching has anything to do with the Leafs woes of late - losers of eight of their last nine games and five straight. And this is also to say that we're generally of the opinion that coaching is kind of over-rated or at least blaming coaches is the laziest kind of analysis. Since very few people actually know what the variables were when a coach makes a particular decision - the players and the assistants usually - it seems kind of silly to blame him for everything, especially in hockey when it usually comes down to a couple of lucky bounces.
However. Ron Wilson just seems like a miserable guy to go to work for. He's grumpy. He casts blame pretty freely. One year he's calling Nazem Kadri a superstar and the next he's saying he doesn't work hard enough. He was a Jeff Finger fan.
In Wilson's defense, his No.1 centre is Tyler Bozak and he (Wilson) makes a pretty good case that it's not coaching that acocunts for his top line's lack of production in this analysis by the Globe's Dave Shoalts, who points out that the Leafs' "so-called No. 1 line has a mere 10 even-strength points in 13 games compared to 24 from the No. 2 line of centre Mikhail Grabovski and wingers Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur. Kessel has not scored a goal in five games and Versteeg has just two so far this season while Bozak has a mere five points, the same as Versteeg."
The reality is his team is struggling after a promising start and in 177 games behind the Leafs' bench he's managed just 69 wins. He's heading for his third straight season out of the playoffs and not too many coaches survive that kind of run.
But most importantly, there does seem to be some evidence that firing coaches can help a team's performance.
I encourage you to read the full post here, but basically the good people at Pension Plan Puppets looked at the last 10 mid-season coaching changes in the NHL and the numbers suggest that pulling the plug almost never hurts the cause and often helps.
On average teams firing their coach in mid-season improved by 12 per cent percent, which seems worth the trouble.
Anyway, Brian Burke has given Wilson a vote of confidence which suggest to me that Wilson is as good as gone. The Leafs travel to Florida for a back-to-back set against Tampa and the Panthers Tuesday and Wednesday. After that they have two days off.