Wilson deserves extension
Love or hate Leafs coach, pay him
STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
|Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson looks out from the bench during a game against the Panthers at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Nov. 8, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
TORONTO - If Ron Wilson had the personality of a Barry Trotz or Kirk Muller there would probably be a significant clamour in Leafs Nation for GM Brian Burke to offer him a contract extension.
But Wilson’s not always the warmest guy on the planet and he tends to rub some people the wrong way, so there has not been a lot of external support for a new deal for Wilson. But by all accounts, Wilson deserves an extension, and it appears as though Burke is going to give him one.
As Big Burkie points out on his Twitter account, the Leafs are 32-17-8 since last year’s all-star break (heading into Wednesday night’s tilt against the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins) and appear to be playoff bound for the first time since the 2004. More than that, many of the key young players are developing well (Jake Gardiner, Carl Gunnarsson, Phil Kessel) under Wilson’s tutelage.
For a young team that has been plagued with injuries much of the season, the 14-8-2 Leafs (prior to Wednesday night) have been impressive. A coach shouldn’t be judged on his likability, but on how his team performs. Under Wilson, the Leafs play hard (usually) and the one anchor everyone enjoys hanging around Wilson’s neck — the special teams — have vastly improved. For whatever reason, fans and media types seem to appreciate Burke more than Wilson, and are quicker to give the GM credit when the team wins. But the two have worked in lock-step together to change the culture of entitlement that used to permeate the dressing room.
“Burkie’s the one who termed it ‘Blue and White disease,’” said Wilson. “Accountability is a big part (of what we’re trying to do here) and that’s what Brian and I talk about all the time.”
Wilson figures that he and captain Dion Phaneuf are in the same boat when it comes to a negative perception outside of the organization.
“(He’s) misunderstood by so many people outside of our room, because he has a grim look on his face,” said Wilson. “In the dressing room, he’s happy-go-lucky and funny to be around.” Wilson believes his captain is vastly under-appreciated as a player away from the team.
“He prepares very well, he practices hard, he makes sure the guys around him are awake and alert on the bench, and if he’s having a bad game, he finds some other way that he can have an impact on a game, whether it’s a big hit, or even get in a fight,” said Wilson. “He’ll always do something to try and change the complexion of a game in a positive way for us.”
“He has a swagger,” Wilson continued. “Good players have a solid belief in themselves and they carry that swagger around and their team often adapts that swagger. And that’s what we needed, that’s what we didn’t have — a physical, hard guy with swagger.”
WEEMS WAS WOBBED
Former Raptor Sonny Weems is playing with Zalgiris Kaunas, a Lithuanian team in the Euroleague, and is writing an entertaining blog for HoopsHype.com. In his latest entry, Weems tells of how playing in Europe has largely been rewarding, except for one incident. “After one of my best games, where I finished with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists against Brose Baskets to win our first Euroleague game, I had a terrible surprise when I went back home. I got robbed! I had never been robbed in the States. I was like, ‘Man, what is going on? What is the world coming to?’ They took some money and a couple of electronic things … Nothing serious, but there is something I was really sad about: They took my XBox! I paid like $500 for this one and now it’s gone.”
Weems added that the NBA guys who decided to play overseas “are looking smart” right now. “I’m still over here collecting checks while others are looking for a job at Best Buy.”
That was, of course, before the settlement.
WHILE I’M AT IT
Paulina Gretzky has closed her “racy” Twitter account reportedly on the advice of her dad. Apparently Paulina’s twitter story is front page news. And yes, we’re all doomed.
Mike Tyson was on Brazilian TV singing The Girl From Ipanema. It’s time he went back to doing something less objectionable, like biting ears and threatening to kill sports writers.
WEENIE OF THE WEEK
Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush might want to read up on stuff before he tweets. Bush twittered: “Best wishes to former teammate Steve Gleason and a speedy recovery!” A nice sentiment, except that Gleason is suffering from ALS, a “progressive, fatal, degenerative disease with most affected patients dying after 2-3 years.” There’s no cure ... meaning a speedy recovery is not realistic.