I've never been one to withhold somewhat 'unpopular' ideas. I know not all of you will agree with me today. That said, it is absolutely time for a coaching change in Toronto. Ron Wilson's record with the Leafs now sits at 69-78-30 over 177 games, good enough for a .390 winning percentage. The man has had a bit of success in the NHL over the past 17 seasons, but his numbers with Toronto suggest that he's the worst Leafs coach since Mike Murphy. The Leafs have only two more points than they did on this date last year.*
Find out more after the jump.
This team is built on defense and goaltending. Instead of implementing a system that plays to his team's strengths, Wilson has implemented a wide open forecheck style completely unsuited for the current forward group. The coaching staff have been slow to make any discernible changes to the Leafs style of play over two seasons. For a group that is widely known for their pioneering usage of video breakdown, it took them an entire season to make changes to a post-lockout worst penalty kill. They've had marginal to no success with their diamond PK and umbrella PP systems. It's far too easy for opposing teams to gain entry into the Leafs' zone. And we've been inundated with inconsistent play up and down the lineup for more than two seasons. I'm not sure which team will show up period to period, let alone game to game.
Does blame for the lack of success rest solely on Wilson? No, of course not. This team still lacks top 6 talent and several of the players we do have are young. That said, does Wilson's constant criticism of his young team in front of the media generate a positive environment in the locker room? If Burke is unable to acquire players to better fit the style Wilson wants to play, why does the coaching staff refuse to change their approach to better match their players? Has Wilson shown any ability to motivate this team for more than a period or two?
If he can't get the players to fit his style or he doesn't as of yet have the right mix of players to do so, then he's not the right coach for this team. Even though they lack high end talent, the Leafs are good enough to challenge for a playoff spot in the weak Eastern conference. I'm not going to guarantee that a change will for sure make a huge difference, but I think we're at the point where there's nothing to lose by firing Ron Wilson. There's a lot of hockey left to be played, and a change in the coaching staff could be a huge wakeup call for this team and possibly exactly what it needs.
*Through November 7th, 2009, the Leafs had earned 11 points in 15 games.
Leafs HQ has a brief breakdown of last night's breakdown
Marcus Hondro has another recap and speculates on Wilson
VLM has some thoughts on the game and questions why Gunnarsson is in Wilson's doghouse
Game recap from Die by the Blade
In case you weren't depressed and angry enough, here's Damien Cox (it's actually not a terrible piece)