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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