Maple Leafs Fire Ron Wilson: 5 Reasons Why It Will Turn Toronto Around
The news comes as no surprise to many, as the Leafs are spiraling out of the playoff race. You can attribute the poor performance mostly to the coaching of Wilson.
During the Christmas break, Wilson announced via Twitter that he received a one-year extension from the Leafs. So even though he was fired, Wilson will still get paid.
With the news already out, here are five reasons why Wilson's dismissal will turn this franchise around. Maybe not this season, but in the years to come.
Randy Carlyle Brought in to Take over
Randy Carlyle's addition to the Leafs doesn't come as a surprise to me. The former All-Star defenceman likely ranks as the best available coach out there who wasn't coaching.
He helped lead a completely rebuilt Ducks team in his first year with the team. They eventually lost in the Western Conference Finals.
He was a world-class defenceman in his time, and unlike Wilson, Carlyle was great at both ends of the ice.
Probably the most forgotten thing is that Carlyle helped lead the Ducks to a championship with the team dynamic that Brian Burke builds his teams around: a very good top-six forward group, a gritty bottom-six forward group, a dynamic top-four defenceman corps, two stay-at-home defenders and strong goaltending.
Could Carlyle lead the Leafs back into the playoffs this season? That may be asking too much.
No More Bromance
Wilson, as many of you might know, was longtime friends with Brian Burke. Their relationship started out at Providence College, where the two played Division I NCAA hockey.
I always feared that a relationship this close between a coach and a GM is more hurtful than helpful.
A coach may get complacent if he's best friends with the GM. Also, the GM may be afraid to do the dirty work and remove the head coach.
Not only this, but the players can see it too. They possibly play with more pressure because they are thinking to themselves, "If I don't perform, I'll be gone."
But kudos to Burke here. He got rid of the coach, and now you get to see whether your team has what it takes to compete in the Eastern Conference.
A Change of Attitude in the Room
The feeling I always get when the Leafs are scored upon is, "This goal opens the floodgates." This feeling was as evident as ever when a Leafs defenceman coughed the puck up to a Panthers forward, resulting in a goal 13 seconds into Tuesday's game.
Not only did that open the floodgates, but it resulted in a loss to a team that was on the back end of back-to-back games and had played their third game in four nights.
Abysmal, in terms of effort, to say the least.
Wilson, a known negative Nelly, is now out of the room. And hopefully, Carlyle brings with him a fresh new attitude toward his youngsters and an especially fresh outlook with the media—that seemed to be where Wilson unleashed his anger the most.
The New Wave Is Ready for Prime Time
With this move now official, that should mean a fresh new attitude for some Leafs prospects—guys who should already be in the lineup today, but weren't because many found Ron Wilson to be very tough on them.
Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin (now called up) and Joe Colborne are top prospects in the organization who have found themselves in the AHL most of the season but, to be honest, probably should not be there anymore.
With the likes of Carter Ashton, Brad Ross, Tyler Biggs, Korbinian Holzer, Mark Owuya and Jesse Blacker still a year or two away, look for the Leafs to be busy this offseason to help build a club that Randy Carlyle can take to the next level.
A Better Destination for Free Agents and Trade Targets?
Ron Wilson is one of the harder personalities to get along with in the NHL. As is Brian Burke, you can say.
Wilson destroyed Patrick Marleau for a few years while he was in San Jose, and he began to destroy players like Nikolai Kulemin, Nazem Kadri and Luke Schenn while he was here in Toronto.
Carlyle, on the other hand, has a pretty good reputation with players and helped Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf become the players they are today.
Does that mean the Leafs chase one of the three? Possibly, but even more tempting is the thought of Rick Nash.
But for that, we'll have to wait and see!