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When should Ron Wilson get a new contract?

Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Ron Wilson (left) offers advice to new signing David Steckel during the final practice session Toronto on Wednesday October 5, 2011, ahead of tomorrow's season opener against Montreal Canadiens. Photo by Chris Young for The Globe and Mail

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

This question is inevitable, so we might as well ask it now.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in first place in the NHL, after 13 games, and are off to their best start in more than a decade. Sure they've won a few games they probably didn't deserve to, but when this start is added to their hot finish of last season, the Leafs are 27-12-7 in their last 46 games.

That's hard to ignore.

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But at what point do you start talking contract extension with coach Ron Wilson, who's in the final year of his deal?

For me, it comes down to the postseason. Clinch a playoff berth, and Wilson's earned another contract.

Miss for the fourth straight year, and it's time to look elsewhere.

The organization itself isn't saying much on this front and that's not expected to change.

"This will be done when and if it makes sense," GM Brian Burke said Friday. "There will be no public discussion of any details."

Wilson himself wasn't in the mood to discuss his situation much, either.

"I'm just doing my job," he said when asked if the hot start may take some heat off him. "I didn't feel uncomfortable before. I'm just doing my job. I've been doing this for almost 20 years. So I'm pretty comfortable in my own shoes and my own skin."

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The players, meanwhile, credit Wilson with being an important influence in the team's turnaround.

"You know what, we are where we are right now, we're playing well and he's been a huge part of that," John-Michael Liles said.

Notebook

- With James Reimer still ailing, it doesn't appear there will be any lineup changes for the Leafs for their game Saturday against the struggling Boston Bruins. Who starts in goal remains a question mark, with the odds roughly 50/50 either Jonas Gustavsson or Ben Scrivens gets the nod.

- Wilson was asked after practice Friday about potentially sitting defenceman Luke Schenn, who has played roughly 10 minutes a game lately, but didn't seem to like the suggestion. "I don't know about that. That's something that we'll discuss internally and make a decision. He's struggling right now, but we have faith that he's going to turn the corner and find a way to get his confidence back. I know he says it's not confidence, but it certainly is to me."

- Wilson on winger Joey Crabb, who has two goals in two games since his recall after lighting up the AHL with 15 points in nine games: "He actually played very well in training camp. We've just got a lot of depth and it was a tough decision to send him down. The important thing for him was that he went down and worked really hard. We told him, you're still in our plans, get the job done down there, and at some point if things are working for you and we need to make a little change, you'll be one of the first guys considered."

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- And Wilson on Mike Komisarek: "He's one of our best plus-minus people. It's probably a disappointing thing to say that to all the fans who spend all day online ripping the poor guy, but he's gotten the job done. He's playing very well."

- A couple stats to think about to end off here: (1) The Leafs lead the NHL in shooting percentage at 12.9 per cent and (2) according to the Sagarin Ratings over at USA Today, they've faced the easiest schedule in the league so far (tied with Tampa Bay). Make of those what you will.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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