NHL Canadian Corner – December 27, 2011.

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke justifies extending coach Ron Wilson’s contract…Habs coach Randy Cunneyworth seeks first win…Milan Michalek to return to Senators lineup…Flames top line on an offensive tear…Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney hampered by tendonitis…Canucks down Oilers…Jets hope for better road record.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke defended his decision to sign head coach Ron Wilson to a one-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs make the playoffs, it’ll certainly mute the criticism. If they miss the playoffs again, the fans and media will be howling for Burke’s head, as well as Wilson’s. Burke, meanwhile, will ignore them and soldier on. It’s Brian Burke’s world, Leafs fans, you just live in it.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth will shuffle up his lines for tonight’s game against Ottawa, hoping it’ll bring about his first victory since taking over as head coach.

Michalek returns to Senators lineup.

OTTAWA SUN: Forward Milan Michalek will be returning to the Senators lineup tonight. He’d been sidelined for several games to concussion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs are overdue for a win, but with Michalek returning to Senators lineup, it doesn’t bode well for Montreal snapping that losing skid.

CALGARY HERALD: The Flames top line of Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross have been on fire in recent weeks. Jokinen has 14 points in the last ten games, Iginla has 13 and Glencross has ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: See what I did there? They’re on fire, because they’re Flames…oh, never mind…

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney has tendonitis in his surgically repaired right ankle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season is just going from bad to worse for the oft-injured Whitney.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: The Canucks “returned to form” with a 5-3 win over the Oilers on Monday.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets hope to improve on a 4-8-4 road record, starting tonight in Colorado against the Avalanche.


  1. Well I for one think that extending Wilson’s contract for another year is premature considering the team hasn’t made the playoffs during his tenure. Whether they can make the playoffs with or without another trade on or before the trade deadline remains to be seen

  2. It is reported that wilson’s extension is for only 1 year which will give burke flexiblity to still fire wilson at the end of the year if the team takes a major slide. wilson said he thought it was more of a respect from the leafs to extend him and i agree. not that i am saying wilson is a good coach, but its not like the leafs cant afford to pay him another year even if they dont intend on keeping him around for that long.

  3. Wilson’s Playoff coaching record over the last 18 years. Does this look good to you?

    Year Result
    1993–94 Missed playoffs
    1994–95 Missed playoffs
    1995–96 Missed playoffs
    1996–97 Lost in second round
    1997–98 Lost in Cup Finals
    1998–99 Missed playoffs
    1999–2000 Lost in first round
    2000–01 Lost in first round
    2001–02 Missed playoffs
    2002–03 Missed playoffs
    2003–04 Lost in Conf. Champ
    2005–06 Lost in second round
    2006–07 Lost in second round
    2007–08 Lost in second round
    2008–09 Missed playoffs
    2009–10 Missed playoffs
    2010–11 Missed playoffs

  4. well said about burke and leafs fans spec lol. he pretty much does what he likes.

  5. Good thing too that Burke does as he wishes since most fans think they know more than the guys who actually do the job. Extending Wilson is a no brainer. It makes absolute no sense to keep Wilson as a lame duck coach when you consider the wealth MLSE has at their disposal… if the Leafs were a budget team then yes, too soon. Do we know what the term is even, not that it matters either.

    Disillusioned fans like firewilson have no idea of how good a coach Wilson is with young players and teams. Most, if not all, of Wilson’s jobs were where he came in to either a rebuilding team or expansion team and brought all to a pretty respectable place when he left. When someone who see’s things as they are would first realize that with the Leafs, Wilson’s first job was to identify who can and who can not play the team’s current style or system and it would be Burke’s to move them out and get players that “have been identified” as ones that could or should (I use quotes as both wilson and burke used that as a way of describing the players they acquired). This stage took about 3 short years. The current team is closer to the finished product and only now should we really be “judging” the results Wilson is doing with his staff… ya that’s right even the coaching staff, the two responsible for PK and PP have been let go and now the team is slowly showing improvement and would be further ahead if not for all the injuries and they have been a lot and a lot of key ones such as your #1 goalie.

  6. I think Ron Wilson is a 50/50 coach … he has great strategies, can get the best out of his players … but doesn’t always know which players to use. I stick with the fact Dupuis stuck with the club so long and we are letting Zigomanis rot on the farm team. But I do think that Wilson can bring the Leafs to the playoffs, how much success we will have I have no idea. I do wish we were running with Eakins, but if Wilson can continue to improve the club I will be happy and if they fail, well he can still be gone during the off season.

  7. @Donnybrook
    Showing improvement on the PK since letting go two of the coaching staff?? What team have you been watching? Speaking of disillusioned fans, every team operates with injuries during the season so stop using it as an excuss.
    You really think Wilson has made a vast improvement with the 5th worst goal against, the leagues worst pk, has them sitting one point from being out of a playoff spot with most of the scoring coming from one line and has the entire defence core lacking confidence because the team doesn’t play a sound defensive system. Don’t confuse the trades made by Burke for quality players as a sign that Wilson is doing a good job. Let’s see where the Leafs are at the end of Jan because one step forward and two steps backwards (this last month) doesn’t signify a playoff bound team…

  8. @FireWilson
    You should take off the blinders and see the whole picture and stop cherry picking. I just the improvement of the PK before all the injuries hit must be overlooked if your point is to make any sense. And speaking of injuries, yes other teams have them too but over a third of your regulars as well as being key members of the team and for the length of time that they were out of the line up, not too many teams can claim that and still be able to win some games isn’t bad for a young team. So after all that, a team that is in its forth year of a complete tear-down and rebuild sitting in 6th in the east where no one thought they would be sitting in with 40 points by this time is I guess something you think has absolutely nothing to do with Wilson? If that’s the case why is Wilson being blamed for when the team does not perform? Is he on the PK? I wonder if you think winning 2 out of every 3 games is a bad thing? I would love to hear who you think is better to be the coach of this team and what constitutes what a good coach is since you clearly have no idea what a coach is supposed to do.
    Look he’s not perfect but neither is anyone else but the players and Burke believe in him and that’s all I need to know about the man. Don’t believe me? Read this nice piece by one of the best MSM reporters with a candid interview with a couple of players speaking about Wilson: http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=383557#YourCallTop

  9. @Donnybrook. Here’s an article that I agree with.

    Embracing Mediocrity
    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.

    What does matter, in a larger sense, is that this is an undeniable instance of Burke’s hockey club openly embracing mediocrity.

    Miss the playoffs three straight years, then get to 14th overall in a 30-team league with a weak defensive record (25th out of 30) and the worst penalty killing (30th out of 30) in hockey and the coach responsible for it all gets a handsome, multi-million reward.

    “Winning if necessary but not necessarily winning.” It was a cheeky, mock phrase applied to the Leafs that originated in the Steve Stavro ownership days, but rings just as true today.

    This extension proves it.

    Wilson and Burke have talked ad nauseum about getting rid of “blue-and-white disease” in the dressing room. But there is no greater expression of blue-and-white disease, basically defined as accepting what others would see as average result as excellence, than that which Burke has delivered in extending Wilson at this time.

    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.

    This is why people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton, Montreal, Calgary and Winnipeg chortle “plan the parade” every time the Leafs win two in a row.

    Mediocrity is celebrated in Leaf-land like no place else in hockey. Hell, mediocrity pays in Toronto like no place else in hockey.

    Eventually, should the Leafs not make the post-season and Wilson is jettisoned, Rogers and Bell may also want to know why the lame-duck Ontario Teachers Pension Fund had any business approving such an contract extension, particularly with another NHL lockout in the offing.

    But Wilson, for now, gets to gloat. Enjoy it, coach.

  10. HAHAHA…. breathe… HAHAHAHA
    Man you’re funny. First off, I don’t think you have a grasp of the meaning of mediocrity. There are many things I would call the Leafs but mediocre isn’t exactly one of them. You need to look at other teams out there that can better fit that title. Second, calling him “Fibber Ron” seriously man who are you, Dumbass Cox or Shithead Simmonds? I’m not offended at all by his media presence, I like many real fans, care about progress from the team not how he handles the dumb MSM in Toronto. We know where this team was and like the direction its heading in so far. Like I said many times before, I don’t know if Wilson is going to be the coach when the Leafs hoist the cup or not but I am sure that no matter who does, it couldn’t of been achieved without all the work Wilson has sone in his time here coaching this team.

    There’s another 29 teams there for you to cheer for, I’ll keep the seat warm on the bandwagon when you’re ready to cheer for the team again.