Toronto Maple Leafs: Why Fans Should Rejoice (Hint: it's Not Ron Wilson)

Mark MakuchCorrespondent IJune 9, 2008

The most exciting thing about the signing of Ron Wilson isn't about Ron Wilson.

Now don't get me wrong, I think it's a great move and he'll be a great coach for the Leafs. But really, the biggest and most exciting news has nothing to do with the talented new coach.

Why Leaf fans everywhere should rejoice is because of the following quote from the Toronto Sun: "he [Fletcher] did not require any approval from the board of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., for the hiring."

Can this be true? If so, this hiring marks the real start of the turnaround of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Why? Because this is the first major decision to not require the board's input in years.

You can say that Fletcher has been operating autonomously since he started, but I had a funny feeling that the strings were not completely severed between hockey operations and the board.

Trading Hal Gill and letting John Pohl go without approval proved nothing. Now we have clear evidence that the maddening, undermining, sickening, tinkering ways of the board might really be over. 

This event can only bode well for the entire franchise. Finally hockey people are making hockey decisions.

Fletcher, bless his geriatric bones, is fully standing by his decision and it's refreshing to hear that he knew what he wanted and went out and got it. No other coaches interviewed. No other candidates considered. Ron Wilson. You're the man. Go.

This kind of clear, decisive decision making by someone in the Leafs' organization is simply astounding. It's no wonder that many Leaf fans are trying to poke holes in the move by decrying the fact that the GM is not in place yet and how that is a major mistake. They simply can't imagine the Leafs without some kind of backroom blunder behind the press room curtains.

Whether or not Burke will come on as the GM this year or next, Fletcher went out and got the best coach available when the opportunity presented itself. If he had waited, all the fans would be groaning about how the Leafs waited too long and how all the good coaches already got hired.

I ask, is it better to saddle a GM with one of the best coaches in the game or with the prospect of having no decent coach available to hire?

Will the Leafs be respectable next year?

Probably not, but at least they will be in good hands with a coach that has been in this situation before.

I don't think the Leafs will be laughable for long, not only due to Wilson, but more-so, because the board is back in the boardroom where they belong and not in the GM's office closet, listening at the door and whispering ill-conceived instructions.

Let's not kid ourselves: the future isn't here yet, but at least the biggest and most pernicious obstacle to its arrival seems to have gone.