Report: Head Coach Ron Wilson Fired by Toronto Maple Leafs

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2012

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 27: Head coach Ron Wilson of the Toronto Maple Leafs watches third period action against the Florida Panthers on December 27, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Maple Leafs 5-3. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Ron Wilson Friday night and have yet to announce his replacement, a team source told TSN's Darren Dreger.

Ron Wilson fired.No replacement named.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 3, 2012

UPDATE: Friday, March 2 at 9:00 p.m. ET

According to Darren Millard of Sportsnet, former Ducks coach Randy Carlyle will be the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sources have confirmed to me randy carlyle will be the leafs next head coach.

— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) March 3, 2012

Former Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, who was fired earlier this season, is the most likely replacement for Wilson.

After starting the season strongly, the Leafs began to struggle over the last few months, and their disastrous February record of 4-10 caused them to fall out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

The Leafs have lost six straight games and are currently five points behind the eighth and final playoff spot.

Wilson took over the Leafs in June of 2008 after failing to get the San Jose Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final. In almost four complete seasons with the Leafs, Wilson was unable to get the team into the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 NHL season.

What does it mean?

The Maple Leafs have some serious goaltending and defensive issues that have hurt their team's ability to win games in recent weeks.

As the head coach, Wilson took much of the blame for his team's poor performance. To Wilson's credit, general manager Brian Burke did nothing at the trade deadline to improve the team and give his head coach a better roster to work with.

The players ultimately need to be held accountable, and even though there's no excuse for them under performing, the head coach will almost always be the one who loses his job over it.

After "fire Wilson" chants broke out at the Air Canada Centre last week, it was clear that the fans were not very supportive of Wilson.

What's next?

The most logical replacements for Wilson are former head coaches Marc Crawford and Randy Carlyle.

Dreger tweeted Friday night that the new coach will be with the team Saturday night when they face the rival Montreal Canadiens on Hockey Night in Canada, and that Carlyle is the likely hire.

Carlyle very likely to be next coach of the Leafs. New coach will be on the bench in Mtl tomorrow.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 3, 2012

Carlyle, if hired, will bring a more disciplined style of hockey to the Leafs which should help their penalty killing and overall play in the defensive zone.

Carlyle also has a proven track record of postseason success, evidenced by his 2007 Stanley Cup championship run with the Ducks. The general manager of that teams was Brian Burke, who of course is now running the Leafs.