Why is Wilson returning?

Leafs coach Ron Wilson at practice on Mar. 31, 2010. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

Leafs coach Ron Wilson at practice on Mar. 31, 2010. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

Ron Wilson will return for his third season as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The question is: Why?

Of all that has been questionable about the Leafs in recent years, Wilsonís lack of success has been the most surprising.

He came to Toronto with an impressive resume.

He said it would take time.

He seemed to have a sense about how difficult it would be to turn this team around.

But the truth is, itís been worse than even Wilson imagined.

The Leafs will finish this season 29th out of 30 teams, last in the NHL on the penalty kill, last in power play (and how long has it been since a team finished last in both those categories in the same year?), 29th in goals against, 26th in goals for.

Hardly anything that points to Wilson having any kind of success or the free pass he is given by Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke.

Wilson has done some fine things as a coach ó with Team USA, with the San Jose Sharks ó but for whatever reason it hasnít translated here.

Burke has said he wonít even discuss a coaching change at this time: But if Wilsonís Leafs are as lifeless next season as they were this time around, Burke has to start looking at his coach.

The days of the free pass will soon be over.

This and that

The most telling area that Burke and his mentor, Lou Lamoriello, differ: Patience with coaches. Lamorielloís Devils have had eight coaches (nine if you count Lamorielloís two stints as interim) in the past 12 seasons, where the team never missed the playoffs and averaged more than 100 points a year ... You realize how dismal the state of Toronto sports is when you see this is the Red Wings 10th consecutive 100-point season and the 10th consecutive 50-win season for the Dallas Mavericks. By comparison, the Leafs have had only three 100-point seasons in their entire history and the Raptors have never won more than 47 games in any season ... Tiger Woods is setting all kinds of standards for bad taste: First, his personal life. Then, agreeing to the commercial with includes his late father ... A reason to wonder ó again ó about San Jose as a playoff team: Goalie Evgeni Nabakov has a 9-8 record since coming back from an unremarkable Olympics, with nine of those starts being rather wonky and a save percentage just at .900 ... NHL GMs keep telling people they expect all kind of player movement around the NHL Draft. The reason: Too many teams have salary-cap issues.

Hear and there

For the record, Saturday was ďBring your dog to the Marlies game.Ē And no, none of them dressed for the Leafs farm team ... Donít know if this means anything but the Leafs and Marlies didnít make the playoffs: The Washington Capitals had the best record in the NHL and their Hershey farm team had the best record in the AHL ... One of Peter Laviolette or John Tortorella is going to the playoffs: Does the loser get banished to the TV studios? ... Sometimes a player can be identified by his place of birth, like Hedo Turkoglu, Turkey ... This is only the third time in 30 seasons that Calgary and Edmonton have missed the playoffs in the same year ... How sad is this: the Chicago Bulls could have passed the Raptors in the playoff race Friday night but couldnít beat New Jersey, the worst team in the NBA. Today they have to beat the Raps at home to put themselves in position to get swept by Cleveland ... Certain to be fired: Brian Lawton, general manager, Tampa Bay Lightning ... While Nazem Kadri is tearing up the OHL playoffs, there are still many holes in his game. In order to play in the NHL, the kid has to stop turning the puck over in bad places.

Scene and heard

What a pleasure it is to have Buck Martinez back on Blue Jays broadcasts. He may be just learning the play-by-play game but heís already on the fast track ... Canadian sport is a poorer place today without the involvement of Chris Rudge, retiring CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Marcel Aubut talks a good game but heíll have to be great to accomplish what Rudge has ... Good things sometimes happen to good people: Adnan Virk of Leafs TV fame and The Score becomes the latest Toronto broadcaster to head south for a position with ESPN ... Typical Mario Lemieux. When the photo was taken of all the returning Penguins players for the farewell to The Igloo celebration, Lemieux took a spot at the back, trying to be unnoticed ... Just one question: If Ron Schock and Ken Schinkel were among the 51 returnees to Pittsburgh, where was their linemate, Eddie Shack? And are you too young to remember Schock, Shack and Schinkel? ... The fascinating aspect of Blake Geoffrion winning the Hobey Baker: Heís the first graduate of the Nashville minor hockey system to be so acclaimed ... With due respect to Ice Edge and Jerry Reinsdorf , the best place to move the Phoenix Coyotes remains as it was last summer: Southern Ontario.

And another thing

The Boston Bruins scored three short-handed goals on one remarkable penalty kill Saturday: The Maple Leafs scored three shorthanded goals on the season ... Pat Burns was one of the great first year coaches in hockey history. In his first Montreal season, the Canadiens went to the finals. In his first New Jersey season, the Devils won the Cup. In his first Toronto season, the Leafs went to the Conference Final coming off a 69-point season the year before ... Never mind Tigerís addiction: Need to know where I can get help for my addiction to the Food Network program, Dinerís, Drive-Ins and Dives ... Tim Tebow may have a funky delivery throwing the football and looks nothing like an NFL quarterback but apparently heís blowing people away with his pre-draft interviews ... Department of Hokey: Jerry Rice throwing out the first pitch to Steve Young at a San Francisco Giants game and then Young sending Rice on a pass pattern to catch the baseball .... Happy birthday to Jennifer Heil (27), Bret Saberhagen (46), Jim Nill (52), Kelvim Escobar (34), Mike Kilkenny (65), Trevor Linden (40) and Harley Race (67) ... And hey, whatever became of Darryl Maggs?

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca


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