All Leafs coaches will be back

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:50 AM ET

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke already gave assurances that coach Ron Wilson isn’t going anywhere and has now extended that to his assistants, as well as the Toronto Marlies’ staff after the farm team missed playoffs, too.

And Burke has no plans to add to the ranks of Wilson’s lieutenants with someone to coach the moribund Leaf power play. Toronto became the first NHL team in 20 full seasons to rank last in power play and penalty kill, though the latter unit was top 10 after mid-season trades.

“When our power play was better and when it went 5-for-10 in one game, no one praised the coaches, they praised the power play (personnel),” Burke said on Monday. “Pittsburgh was a bottom five or six team for awhile, but they got out of it strictly by better execution.

“When you have the players we can put out there, such as Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Dion Phaneuf and Tomas Kaberle, they should be able to do more. Watch us practice. We have a set series like everyone else; a breakout and an entry.

“But as I say, it’s execution. When your first option is taken away, go to your second, or third and when that doesn’t work, just hammer it at the net.”

Burke hopes to add a legitimate “net presence” next season, after a fed-up Wilson starting sticking burly defenceman Francois Beauchemin and four-goal enforcer Colton Orr in the slot.

At next year’s camp, Wilson vowed to identify his special teams’ units right at the start and play them together a lot during the nine exhibition games.

“Hopefully, next year won’t be about using 35 guys in the games and not getting off to a good start,” Wilson said. “You get into a mindset as a coach about (exhibition games) and forget about the little things, such as power play and penalty killing. Six weeks ago we were 15th in the league and fell off the map at the end. Next year we won’t be behind the eight ball, not like trying to climb a greased pole, when every time something good happened, we’d get three (power-play) goals against us or be 0-for-6 on the power play and you’d start dwelling on the numbers instead of the process (to improve).”


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