Maple Leafs Wilson’s Extension All About Timing

by TSM

Happy holidays all!

Lots going on, so I won’t keep you long.

The Ron Wilson extension is a fascinating story on so many levels:

1. How the story broke
2. Who broke the story
3. When the story broke
4. The actual story itself.

Yesterday I was driving south from cottage country, the World Juniors tournament was on, and yes I will admit it, I really don’t watch the tourney all that much. I am rarely in Toronto for the tourney, and it’s even rarer that I am in front of a tv if i am in town. I’ll admit it, I don’t know any of the players, and yes if it’s on I will cheer for Canada, but I am the only Canadian who isn’t caught up in the hype of the tournament.

So, I turned on TSN Radio and Bruce Arthur was on with Cabbie. The topic was the hiring and to be honest, the chat was all about #’s 1-3 and next to nothing on the #4. Now, I only listened for the first few segments, and when I turned off they were talking about the worst holiday gifts, but the entire chat was about the how, the who and when. Very little about the what. Arthur explained that Wilson did this on purpose because he knew he was getting the media to work at a time when news simply doesn’t break. The league doesn’t allow it to. Unless the tragedy occurs, everyone can spend the day with their family. By releasing it when Wilson did, he intentionally forced the MSMers to work.

The Roj was on the fan early in the day, and he too spent most of the time talking about the delivery method. He went on to say that he didn’t understand why Twitter was an acceptable method to break the story given all the various formats in which to deliver and ingest content. “We own the team”, he said “and we learn about it on Twitter?!”

It really was only Steve Simmons and Steve Ludzik, on the hockey show at noon on TSN, with Mike Hogan and the wheel who talked about the merit of the extension. The highlight of that show was Ludzik, the coach, asking Simmons, the scribe what he, Simmons wanted done differently on the PK. Simmons talked about different ways a PK could be played, he explained how it drove him nuts that the Leaf defenders play in front of the offensive team’s forwards in front of the net on a penalty kill and then when pressed his response was perhaps putting Kessel and Grabovsky on the unit but really anything it took to get to 80% kill rate. Ludzik was great. He explained why the Leafs method of playing in front of the other teams forwards was the right move (if you play behind you create a bigger screen), he said that Tim Hunter said that the system was the same system that led the league in Washington and then he asked Simmons who really owned the PK unit on Ron Wilson’s team.

The articles in the paper were all pretty vanilla. There really wasn’t much editorializing, the flames weren’t out as much as I thought.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my 2 cents. If it’s really a 1 year deal, I don’t get it from either side. For Wilson, all he’s got is a golden parachute. For the Leafs, why bother? I don’t understand why it’s done now, I don’t understand what waiting to see how the season unfold would have cost them. To me, it’s simply unnecessary.

Having said that, it tells me one thing. Burke and Wilson must be aware that the players would or could use Wilson’s “lame duck status” as an excuse down the line, perhaps eroding a playoff chance. What other reason could there be? Has he had a wealth of talent? No. Has the team improved? Hell yes. This is professional sports though. There’s no feel good ending. In my world, he makes the playoffs he earns the extension. If not, well……

In any event, I think scribes had better get used to twitter. We consumers get our news from it. The fact teams may start doing the same, is intriguing. As for the timing, well if this premeditated by Wilson, as Arthur suggested, that’s too bad. I guess it’s like one scribe bugging Paul Maurice before he had a chance to tell his kids directly so they wouldn’t here from the press. I’ll say this the story has gotten next to no coverage. I don’t think that’s an accident

After I wrote this Damien Cox posted the following to his blog:

“It matters not, this contract extension Ron Wilson is gloating over. Or at least, it changes nothing.

He makes the playoffs, he’ll stay as Leaf coach. He misses, he won’t. This extension is mostly about feathering his nest, at least in terms of certainty. He’ll get his money, which is apparently what he wanted under his tree and Brian Burke was happy to provide.”


“Mikhail Grabovski and John-Michael Liles, both in the last year of their contracts, must play on without new deals.

But not Fibber Ron. He gets taken care of.”

Hard to argue with Damien’s first point. Burke has if nothing else taken care of an employee who has had little to work with. He knows that that playoffs are a must this year and Ron will be in deep if he isn’t able to make them. So to reward the loyalty (if you can use that word) you give him a 1 year extension so he is “covered” either way. Only off thing about that is that Burke has been quoted as saying that should Wilson become unemployed, he won’t stay that way for long.

As for the players, it’s a good point, however I would suspect that Burke would get roasted for re-upping Liles so early, Grabovksy? hmmmm.

Merry new year


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December 28, 2011 9:26 am

In the late 80’s early 90’s I watched the world junior tournament, but now TSN has taken it too far with the hype-machine. I find it hard to believe that anyone outside Canada cares about the tournament it unless it is being played in their city, possibly country in the case of Sweden and Finland. Having said that, when I did watch it the other day, there’s been great addition via subtraction of Pierre McGuire.

On the Wilson extension, someone on PTS (I believe) wondered whether the contract was guaranteed 100% or if Wilson would have to take cents on the dollar were he turfed after the season. Sure, its an “extension” but what are the details.

Lee (Oakville)
Lee (Oakville)
December 28, 2011 9:29 am

A couple of points:

1. The real issue is that Ron Wilson dictated his own agenda without the involvement of the MSM. The reaction of the MSM is indicative of their continued realization that their significance is inevitably, inexorably eroding. Bruce Arthur’s bleating of the sanctity of Christmas is negated by the dozens of Twitter messages he sent out that day on a variety of issues. I guess an obsessive use of Twitter doesn’t count as an erosion of family-time for the MSM.

2. Damien Cox’s response is, as usual, juvenile and based on a personal animosity toward Wilson. His point on players playing out a contract is nonsense given no one knows if the Leafs want to re-sign them, they have been given instructions by the agents not to negotiate during the season, or if they want to trade them before the deadline. Another hurried, poorly thought-out piece by cox.

December 28, 2011 10:17 am

@ Lee

I wouldn’t count Bruce Arthur as representative of the MSM with regards to twitter. He is very unique in what he sends out to the twitter world vs the rest of the MSMs. I follow many msm types on twitter and it was pretty quiet overall.

As for the Wilson contract, I gotta agree with Cox no matter how annoying he is. What other organization rewards mediocrity like the Leafs do? Barely in the playoffs constitutes an extension? Patethic.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
December 28, 2011 10:44 am

does Wilson still get the “extension” if he is NOT friends with Burke?

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
December 28, 2011 10:54 am

I thought Burke wanted to clean up the “Blue and White” disease and the “Culture of Entitlement”. Extending Wilson with the team performance since he has been coach just feeds the problems he wants to fix.

December 28, 2011 11:30 am

To me, the interesting thing about the story is that burke gave him the extension before the sale, with bell/rogers having no input.

Also, i agree that if theres a freeze on league business for the holiday, wilson could have held the news for one more day, espmsince it had happened weeks before.

Another Steve
Another Steve
December 28, 2011 1:48 pm

“In any event, I think scribes had better get used to twitter.”

As long as this comment doesn’t mean that Twitter is above criticism.

Just because something is used and in existence doesn’t mean that it’s entirely good and without flaws. I often think that twitter-philes are a bit too sensitive about criticism of their new-found medium. It has lots of problems – from destroying grammar and punctuation to encouraging ADD – and thoughtful people should recognize that it is not without flaws.

Lee N.
Lee N.
December 28, 2011 2:16 pm

1)Mr. Damien Cox, who gave a verbal agreement to join TSN then bolted to Sportsnet when they offered more cash, is the last person who should be
squawking about contracts and commitments.

2)I enjoyed Mike Hogan on the Hockey show at noon. He would be a good
post game host when Tsn starts broadcasting the Leaf games.

3)Greg Brady is the best radio personality on the Fan or TsnRadio; yes better
than the Bobcat. Brilliant combination of humour and sports knowledge. If he
ever stops playing to the trolls by making the snide ‘gay’ comments he would be perfect.

December 28, 2011 2:29 pm

The Rog’s twitter rant the other day really was sad. Like any tool, it can be used for good and bad. Sticking your head in the sand about it and coming off as is radio is so much more credible was funny. Has he listened to some of the stuff on 590 (every other week on PTS and noon).

Speaking of noon, is Maclean always so annoying as he was today? What exactly was the point of telling us he was sore from running on the beach in Florida? Rubbing it in to people in Toronto he was getting tan down south?

Chef Mike in Burlington
December 28, 2011 2:54 pm

Took a punt today and listened to the Tim/ Sid podcast from yesterday, at least the first half hour. Tried the show live at work after that and lasted as long.. can someone tell me if this was a bad few days or is this typical of them?

December 28, 2011 4:28 pm

It would have been a long 3 hours of PTS with Wilner hosting but good thing there’s an OFF button.

December 28, 2011 5:14 pm

Burke is the godparent of one of Wilson’s kids

itchy butt
itchy butt
December 28, 2011 5:56 pm

I know I am alone, but I enjoy Wilner.

December 28, 2011 6:09 pm

@Chef Mike
Is what typical exactly of Tim and Sid?

Sam in Oshawa
December 28, 2011 6:10 pm

I am with you itchy butt i enjoy wilner and all his sarcasm and outright hollier than thou attitude towards the paying customers.He is a good broadcaster and got a raw deal from mcowan,who i hope is on his way out…

Sam in Oshawa
December 28, 2011 6:11 pm

Srrry my grammar is atrocious!!!

December 28, 2011 6:27 pm

I feel pretty similar to TSM and Sam, back in the day was kind of interesting but I have no interest in the hockey tournament now. It seems like nowhere else except here cares about it, the hype of it is almost comical levels.

The whole Wilson vs MSM, I find both to be annoying, Wilson/Burke pranking the MSM, makes me wonder how a team with these guys leading who hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since they been here find the ego to think they are that good.

As for the MSM, if you don’t like them, stop covering them. If any other team had this attitude that these guys have, you would just ignore them and tell them to bleep off. But not the Leafs. The MSM build this monster with constant talk and focus and don’t have the jam to step away from it.

BTW, to TSM if reading, last December you had a great power ranking feature on MSM, I wonder if something similar can happen this month. Looking back at the past dozen months, who rised up, who’s fallen. Maybe seperate with positives, and negatives sections. I think it would be intersting

Sam in Oshawa
December 28, 2011 6:59 pm

I have posted about tim & sid,boring no talent no content no opinion i am interested in ,with all the past hype on these two very disappointed.Aleast wilner will stick his neck out with an opinion like it or not.E.Smith and Wilner should have been given a shot together before those two.Also congrats to Mallard fine job day in and day out the best at sportsnet bar none…

December 28, 2011 7:26 pm

Rome – Agree that the Burke/Wilson act is tedious but not sure that the MSMers can ignore them in this market. It may just be my apathy towards hockey but it seemed on the occasions I got to sit with a coffee and read the paper over the past week, the Star has reduced the level and importance of the coverage.

While sports radio has not been on my radar this past week, when I did listen there did not seem to be much interest in Wilson’s contract extension, only the Penalty Kill.

I did notice the timing of his tweet and assumed it was so that he did not have to deal with the media. I think this, plus the fact it is Wilson is why the MSM folks are taking issue with medium for “the announcement”. Not to be confused with “the decision”.

Or maybe as Cox said, this is really not much more than Burke ensuring Wilson has a soft landing if they do not make the playoffs. Perhaps the story is the lack of interest.

Chef Mike in Burlington
December 28, 2011 11:07 pm

“@Chef Mike–Is what typical exactly of Tim and Sid?”

..i was referring to their “banter”, as painful as it to listen to, are they trying to be the Schlarr brothers?? Is this what they were on The Score??

I found it impossible to listen more than 1/2 hour or so, it was so grating…

I rarely listen to live stuff already, I use TunedIn Radio to go national, and nothing I heard today gives me any reason to change to 590 in the afternooons if this is their best offering …

Did i miss something, or do i just not get it??

Ami Angelwings
December 29, 2011 12:27 am

It feels like there’s people who seem to just side against the MSM no matter what. Like it doesn’t matter what Wilson or Burke does, because they don’t like the MSM, it’s awesome if the MSM are critical, it doesn’t matter what the criticisms are :\ It feels like anything the MSM says is now just “they’re just upset they’re not relevant anymore!” Interestingly, I believe of all the kinds of news reporting that’s becoming irrelevant, sports reporting (along with obviously, politics and investigative journalism) is among the kinds that will still be more relevant because they can’t be replaced by bloggers. Bloggers don’t travel with the team, bloggers can’t watch all the games lives, and bloggers don’t have access to coaches, players, or the ear of executives. And people still do turn to the media to plant stories, they don’t turn to me (tho they should! 😀 ) Blogs have made a lot of stuff irrelevant, like we don’t need newspapers to give us recipes, or one single guy telling us whether a movie is good or not, but I think it’s still worth while to have sports journalists who follow the team, whose jobs for decades have been to follow sports and who have experience with the business and the culture and the people involved.

I mean sure, Burke and Wilson tweaking the media might be fun to those who dislike the media and are glad they get bypassed or misled, but it doesn’t do anything for me, as a fan of the team, and it doesn’t come off as anything more than an immature stab at people whose jobs are to provide us with information. If the MSM is gone, is it a good thing if the only place we get information is if the great corporation deigns it for us? I’d rather get my information from a jerk who still has a job to do like Damien Cox than on the whims of the Leafs coach.

I mean, I understand completely the annoyance at the moment of narrative, cultural and information control that historically, and even currently, the MSM has, and that only stories or framing of stories they think are relevant are the ones we hear about, but the solution isn’t to skip them and go straight to the governments and corporations, because those are the entities that the MSM are supposed to keep honest and open up for us. I understand criticizing the MSM for not doing a good enough job, but not criticizing them that they shouldn’t do it at ALL.

December 29, 2011 2:26 am

Count me among those who aren’t big on the World Juniors. The hype and nationalism of it is a major turn off for me.

I’m a Wilner fan too. He’s rude, and sometimes antagonistic, but he backs his arguments up with facts, even if the opinion is unpopular. It’s great hearing some dope call in and say ‘player X sucks’, then Wilner responds with ‘well these are his stats, so no he doesnt ‘. He’s rational and knows his stuff.

I’m liking Tim and Sid. I think the show is fun. But I definitely think there will be many like Mike who don’t. It’s very different from what weve heard on The Fan in the past. It’ll be interesting to see how they do. They have a rabid following on twitter and with their podcast.

December 29, 2011 11:08 am

Sam in Oshawa (and others) refer to the raw deal that Wilmer has received from McCowa or that McCowan will not have him on PTS when he is hosting. Does anyone know what exactly happened between them and what caused it.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
December 29, 2011 11:18 am

DAZ — we’ve batted this around in previous threads. McCown’s apparent distaste for Wilner is puzzling given Wilner’s issue with Cito. You would think that according to the “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” principle that the two would get along.

On the other hand, perhaps McCown finds Wilner unpleasant in the same way that many other people find him unpleasant. The feeling is probably mutual since McCown can sound like your average JaysTalk caller from time to time. But, to answer your question, there is no incident that anyone here knows about. Perhaps Wilner said something about McCown’s “hair” …. we don’t know.

Robert Gerard
Robert Gerard
December 29, 2011 12:15 pm

Re-signing this loser is the ultimate acceptance of mediocrity and a Brian Burke slap in the face of all leaf fans. If Wilson is totally incapable of mounting an effective penalty kill, perhaps he could have worked at cutting the number of stupid penalties. Epic fail on both counts. And let’s be honest, bottom five goialtending ain’t onna get us inthe playoffs either. Enjoy it folks, by April we’ll be right where Burke and Wilson want us to be — contending with Edmonton for first pick overall.

December 29, 2011 1:06 pm

Tim & Sid suck even worse than i expected. I agree with the other comment i find them boring & lame with no talent no content & no opinion. Another stellar hire by the big shots at Robbers. And don’t get me started on radio ratings that system is a joke that ain’t worth the paper it’s written on.

TSN’s world junior hype-machine is indeed once again annoyingly in full swing…nobody cares except Canadian knuckleheads wake me when it’s over.

Only the Leafs are dumb enough to reward coach’s for non playoff results and a penalty kill that year after year is the worst in the NHL. There was absolutely no reason for Burke to extend Wilson before the end of the season and if they fail to make the playoffs hahaha…

The 2 headed corporate monsters need to rethink their horrendous decision right from the get go to put a bunch of leaf games on TSN’s 1050 crappy signal next year. They have got to move 1050 to a better spot on the dial and no i don’t want 1050 to move to 640 because Coast to Coast am is great.

Chef Mike in Burlington
December 29, 2011 4:16 pm

Fellow Mike (in Boston)…you got it there, Bob has mood swings worse than my ex-wifes sometimes when it comes to the Jays and their failure to make it to the post season.

I kinda remember an exchange a few months before after AA was hired and Bob mentioned his concerns about getting a guy with gravitas and top level experience within the MLB community, and Wilner suggested that maybe it would be good to wait until someone was actually hired before finding fault with what hasn’t happened yet. That was years ago and I’ve not heard the two speak since.

There was also a Riccardi thing too, where one of them defended someone and the other took issue, but i dont remember those details…

December 29, 2011 5:20 pm

I don’t remember much specifics of McCown/Wilner, but Chef brings up an intersting point. I am going with Mike in B-town opinion on it also, Wilner has such an attitude of “You can have a different opinion, but you are wrong” even though statistics isn’t everythng (for example, can be argued that a slow runner like Frank Thomas onbase percentage doesn’t mean much as him walking, clogs up the bases) that I am sure went against McCown ideas on stuff. Wilner’s “you must be an emotional fan” to disagree with me, obviously rubs some listeners the wrong way, and I am sure an equally ego-centric individual like McCown feels it also.

Even though I don’t think Wilner is nearlly as smart as he thinks he is, heck I think he’s wrong much more often than not. He is on a short list of guys I find annoying but will listen to because he’s entertaining. A few months back he was a co-host with Blair on PTS and he made a solid effort in talking other sports and was a lot less obnoxious. Wilner was also okay during the Grill Room show back in the day. BTW, MikeinBtown, I don’t think Wilner has any place to talk about McCown hair, from what I saw yesterday it looks like Wilner hair is rejecting his head quicker than FA are rejecting Jays offers. booya *Gimmie horns*

Speaking of gimmie horns, I like most of what Tim & Sid are doing, the only negative is that they don’t seem to be going after any of the local teams yet on a negative way (even though yesterday Sid was talking about having to start doing something to bring the fans interest and it’s the responsibility of the Jays to do so) There banter and tangents is what made them “them”, Chef comparison of them to the Sklar bros is accurate, considering I like the Sklar bros (who filled in for Jim Rome today, a lot of back and forth on my part) there is similarities. Like Daniel said, it’s different than most you hear on radio, very tongue-in-cheek show. They haven’t taken a single call yet, which I think would make people here happy.

Example of how much I don’t care about the WJHC, last night after the Raptors game I tuned into the Fan to hear ESmith shilltastic Raptors post game call in show, but they went to the WJHC instead and I was disappointed .

Sam in Oshawa
December 29, 2011 6:38 pm

Wilner was tight with JP Richardi,had him on his post game show weekly for a Q&A with the fans never ducking any questions not bad i thought considering the mess he created.Mcowan did not like the bromance between them,he called Wilner out on it a few times and basically banned Wilner from his show.Wilner to his credit did not cave and kiss Bobs butt as most others would have done.Wilner does show up on PTS but only when Bob is off.Blair is also a big fan of JPs and has him on his show.I respected JP for at least engaging the fans on aregular basis.Bob tried to browbeat JP but he just blew him off and would not do his show.Wilson to his credit is the same.Bob will diss Wilner but have Eric Tillman on regularly go figure!!!

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
December 30, 2011 2:50 am

I think it has to do with Bob’s issues with JP and Wilner having JP’s back when it came to the issues with Bob.
Hey Bobcat jump to TSN where the big boys play and leave that crappy network/station.

December 30, 2011 4:26 pm

Feel like I’m in an alternate universe reading year-end reports on the Leafs. The best was the Star proclaiming the Leafs ‘one of the best teams in the league’ in 2011 with their 42-29-11 record. those 95 points wouldn’t even have got them in the playoffs in the West. the worst part is the dull fans who believe and repeat it!!!

Christopher Frenette
August 10, 2012 6:19 pm
Reply to  Daniel

wilner backs his opinions up with “facts” though often, his “facts” are untrue and he will *at times* say such falsehoods in passing because most of his callers dont know them to be untrue.

Christopher Frenette
August 10, 2012 6:23 pm
Reply to  MEDIAJOE

First off I just want to say I find tim and sid to sound like they’re both very nice guys, probably guys i’d be cool with if I knew them in real life – but I find their show to be terrible. between the ridiculously mis-used “gimmie horns” and Tim’s goofy fake laughs at stuff that isnt funny at all, it’s the only show on the fan I will actually turn off and listen to nothing, and I listen to the fan pretty much all the time. I don’t see Rogers extending their contract. sorry tid and sim! lol

Christopher Frenette
August 10, 2012 6:26 pm
Reply to  daz

he doesn’t like wilner, mccowan is a sensitive guy who likes “classy” broadcaster, classic entertainers. lets face it, wilner is short, rude and condesending with emotional jays fans, when their worked up positively or otherwise. Wilner was actually on PTS roundtable once in 2010 and i remember mccowan sniped at him about something, it was clear bob doesnt like him.

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