The Ron of a new era?

STEVE SIMMONS and STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Ron Wilson has been offered the head coaching job of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"We're in negotiations right now with a coach," Leafs interim GM Cliff Fletcher said yesterday in Detroit. "Hopefully we'll get it resolved in the near future."

Fletcher did say that he had only interviewed one coach, and it had been previously reported that he had spoken with Wilson, let go by the San Jose Sharks after a disappointing playoff run. There is speculation that the often sarcastic, frequently caustic Wilson arrived in Toronto last night and that the Leafs could hold a news conference as early as today to formally announce the hiring.

Wilson was a successful collegiate player and was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the 1975 NHL Entry draft in the eighth round. He played 64 games for the Leafs, scoring seven goals and adding 15 assists.

Wilson then went on to play pro in Switzerland, before returning to the NHL for three seasons with the Minnesota North Stars before retiring in 1988.

As a coach, he began his career behind the bench in 1988 as an assistant with the Moncton Hawks of the AHL before moving on to the Vancouver Canucks as an assistant, and then the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Washington Capitals and San Jose as the head coach. He is currently second among active coaches in games coached in the NHL, behind only Mike Keenan.

His best showing behind the bench came during the 1997-98 season when he lad the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup final, losing to Scotty Bowman's Detroit Red Wings. The Sharks generally have underachieved in the playoffs during Wilson's tenure there and were eliminated in the second round this season in six games by the Dallas Stars.

However, Leafs goaltender Andrew Raycroft said Wilson's record speaks for itself.

"I think he knows what he is doing," Raycroft said. "A lot of things need to fall into place to win a Cup. Just look at his record. You can't just blame the coach or a couple of players."

Interestingly, Wilson and Anaheim Ducks general manager and executive VP Brian Burke are close friends and former teammates at Providence College in the 1970s, suggesting that Burke, who is said to be in line to become the Leafs' next GM once he secures his release from the Ducks, may be unofficially calling the shots behind the scene for the Leafs.

Wilson was born in Windsor but is an American citizen. He played for three years at Providence College and set several NCAA scoring records for defencemen and was named ECAC Player of the Year in 1975.

Wilson also led the American team to a victory over Canada at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Burke, meanwhile, said yesterday that he feels "badly" about all the speculation surrounding the Leafs' interest in his services.

"It's not uncomfortable," he said. "It's everyone doing their job. (But) I'm not sure it's helpful to our league when we should be focused on these two teams (in the Stanley Cup final). That's what I feel badly about. This focus should be on Pittsburgh and Detroit. They're the two best teams in the league."

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RON'S RESUME

1973-77 Played for NCAA Providence College.

1975-76 -- Played for U.S. Olympic team.

1977 -- Turned pro.

1977-78 -- Made NHL debut with the Maple Leafs. Over the course of three seasons split between the NHL and the minors, had seven goals for Toronto.

1988-90 -- Made professional coaching debut as assistant with the Moncton Hawks of the American Hockey League.

1990-93 -- Hired as assistant coach of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks.

1994-97 -- Took over as head coach of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Failed to make the playoffs his first two seasons there. Was eliminated in Round 2 in '97.

1997-02 -- Hired as head coach of the Washington Capitals. Made the Stanley Cup final in first season.

2002-07 -- Took over as head coach of the San Jose Sharks in the middle of the 2002-03 season. Never made it past the third round of the playoffs.

2008 -- Was fired by San Jose.


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