karate chop the fourth-line center" move
no longer worked as well as it used to.
Apparently, Brian Burke agreed. The Leafs general manager fired Wilson on Friday evening, ending weeks of speculation during which he’d repeatedly told reporters that he wasn’t contemplating a coaching change. On the one hand, Wilson is one of the most successful coaches in NHL history, and he was never given an elite roster to work with in Toronto. On the other hand, somebody had to take responsibility for the plunge in the standings, and Wilson turned out to be the guy.
Was it the right call? It’s tough to say. Here are some of the pros and cons Burke was no doubt considering this week while deciding where to pull the trigger on a coaching change.
Pro: A new coach would be given a honeymoon period by local fans and media where his every decision wouldn’t be immediately subjected to kneejerk criticism, and if he plays his cards right he could probably get it to last for almost the entire introductory press conference.
Con: It would be difficult to make a change now that the trade deadline has passed, since we’re pretty sure the league has a rule this year where any team that wants to fire its coach has to go out and acquire Tomas Kaberle first.
Pro: Don Cherry has been criticizing Wilson for years, and it would be nice to see a humble guy like that finally be able to take credit for being right about something.
Con: Wilson is a highly respected veteran who other coaches go out of their way to observe and learn from, we assume, since it would explain why Randy Carlyle has watched the last few Leaf games from the seats behind the bench while wearing a fake moustache and glasses.
Pro: Bringing in a new coach would certainly address the Maple Leafs biggest area of weakness. Wait, the coach is the one with all the pads who stands in front of the net and tries to stop the puck, right?
Con: Sometimes avoiding the temptation to make a coaching change can lead to future success. For example, the St. Louis Blues have stuck with Ken Hitchcock since November and they’re practically in first place.
Pro: Recently the team has appeared to be tuning out Wilson’s message, assuming his message is “Try not to pass the puck directly to the other team every time you touch it”.
Con: A coaching change will only add to the crushing pressure already being felt by Toronto players facing the stress of knowing the 2013 trade deadline is only 360 days away.
Pro: The much-maligned Maple Leafs penalty kill has been much better ever since Wilson clarified to the players that when he tells them to spend the entire two minutes in a tightly controlled box formation in front of the net, he’s actually referring to the defensive zone.
Con: Putting a stop to all the constant Wilson speculation will force the media to pay attention to other Canadian teams for a change, and it’s just so cute how nobody outside of Ottawa realizes Erik Karlsson broke the career scoring record for defencemen three weeks ago.
Pro: The transition to a new coach will be made easier by the soothing presence of all those desperately needed veterans the Maple Leafs acquired at the trade deadline and… wait, what? Really? Wow.
Con: Firing Wilson now will cost MLSE several million dollars since he recently signed an extension, meaning the organization will have to go out and find a way to sell an extra six tickets.
Pro: Coaches who are fired mid-season are inevitably inundated with job offers from all of their various friends in the media, so in Wilson’s case he’ll probably enjoy the time off.
Con: While making a change now would give the new coach additional time to prepare for the playoffs, in the grand scheme of things the difference between five years and five years plus one month isn’t all that much.
Pro: Admit it, it will be kind of fun when the Leafs had their first bad shift under Carlyle and all the fans starting chanting “Rehire Wilson” just to see if they can make Brian Burke’s head explode.