Simmons Says: Hold off on Wilson
Steve Simmons, QMI Agency
|Steve Simmons says Ron Wilson shouldn't get a contract extension unless the Leafs make the playoffs. (QMI FILE PHOTO)
Ron Wilson’s future with the Maple Leafs should not in any way be tied to the flurry of coaching firings in the hockey world.
And while it’s popular to argue in favour of Wilson receiving a contract extension this early in the National Hockey League season, the reality is the Leafs would be foolish to consider addressing his situation in any way until after this season has concluded.
The whole thing should be simple, really: Make the playoffs and Wilson gets an extension. Miss the playoffs and it’s bye-bye.
Considering the coaching talent available, both inside and outside the organization, the Leafs will have plenty of options when the time comes to make any kind of determination. Should a second-half collapse lead to the ousting of Wilson, there is the availability of fired Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle, assuming he will remain available for that long. And on the inside there is Dallas Eakins, the Marlies’ coach whose reputation is growing in the hockey world. Either choice, should Wilson need to be replaced, would be more than acceptable.
Which all goes back to Wilson and his hockey club. Should the remainder of the season continue the way the first-third has, there won’t be any reason to change coaches. And that by itself will put all the speculation to rest.
THIS AND THAT
It’s against league rules to trade coaches, but if it were allowed, wouldn’t it have made sense for the Washington Capitals to trade Bruce Boudreau to Anaheim in exchange for Carlyle? That way, the Ducks would have gotten their nice-guy, change-of-pace coach and the Capitals would have gotten a Stanley Cup-winning hard ass in Carlyle, who comes with a better resume than Dale Hunter ... Jim Rutherford has four years left on his deal as GM in Carolina. For three of them, barring a major move, he’ll be forced to wonder: Why’d I sign Tomas Kaberle? ... One concern about Hunter as an NHL coach: He hates doing media, is uncomfortable doing it, and will represent an enormous change from the Boudreau years in Washington ... Should they just give the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins now and end any debate? It’s December and the kid is one point behind Daniel Sedin and two ahead of Henrik, the past two scoring champions in the NHL ... Red Wings GM Ken Holland took offence to a note in this spot, indicating that this was the beginning of the end of this era for the Red Wings. In fact, Holland points out that Nicklas Lidstrom is playing better right now on defence than he did in last year’s Norris Trophy winning season. “He doesn’t age,” said Holland. The Red Wings, by the way, are playing at a 113-point pace, which if continued would represent their 12th straight 100-point-plus season.
HEAR AND THERE
I saw Mikhail Grabovski on a line with Jay Rosehill and David Steckel Wednesday night and instantly it reminded me of one of my favourite Sergei Berezin stories. Years back, Berezin, a notorious puck hog, played on a line with Yanic Perreault and Garry Valk with the Leafs. After one game, I asked Berezin: “Why don’t you pass the puck?” He looked at me and answered, without missing a beat: “To who?” ... From the department of perception is everything: The scoreboard on Tim Connolly this season — 14 games played for the Leafs, 12 games missed. The scoreboard on Colby Armstrong in two seasons as a Leaf, 55 games played, 53 games missed ... All that money spent and the Buffalo Sabres just don’t look right. They just look like another team going nowhere in the Eastern Conference ... Lost too often in all the Phil Kessel-Tyler Seguin talk: Part of the trade includes Dougie Hamilton, the mammoth defenceman from the Niagara Ice Dogs, who leads the OHL in goals, assists and points scored by a defenceman. As if the Boston Bruins need any more help ... The Bruins, by the way, have as good a competitive starting goalie as there is in Tim Thomas and maybe the best backup in hockey, in Tuukka Rask ... The fallout from the Dale Hunter departure in London: Mark Hunter is now coaching the Knights with Rob Ramage as one of his assistants. Ramage, still on parole, will miss the four Knights games the rest of the season that are played in the United States. He’s still not able to cross the border.
SCENE AND HEARD
The gambling website, GR88.com, is asking this poll question: Who should Joe Kapp fight next? The leading candidates, according to the poll, are Hulk Hogan, Wayne Gretzky, Brendan Shanahan, Doug Flutie and The Iron Sheik. Can’t believe Brian Burke and his fictional barn didn’t make the list ... Angelo Mosca, by the way, who signed exclusivity with CBS to appear on Dr. Phil this coming week to talk about the Kapp fight, has added some words to his book, Tell It To My Face, detailing his part in the geriatric Grey Cup battle of the 73-year-olds. Book is available online at lulu.com, which isn’t a description of Kapp ... The Kapp-Mosca melee surpassed the previous greatest seniors’ fight, when fellow Hollywood Park board members Harry Ornest and actor John Forsythe scrapped. Both men have since passed away ... If you’ve been around junior hockey at all, you’ll know the name Jim Cressman. The old umpire and longtime reporter is packing it in with The London Free Press. The industry will be one heavyweight lighter without him ... Saw Don Landry at the Argos press conference naming Scott Milanovich coach. Can’t believe he doesn’t have a prominent radio job by now ... So glad that Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Movember types have shaved. The world needs less men with truly lousy moustaches.
AND ANOTHER THING
It isn’t official but the betting is that Wally Buono has coached his last CFL game. Like Tony LaRussa, it’s nice to end with a championship. Look for Toronto native Mike Benavides to wind up as head coach of the B.C. Lions ... There are only eight teams in the CFL but four of them will have new head coaches next season, which is why the Argos had to act quickly in hiring Scott Milanovich. Milanovich, by the way, played quarterback in a high school all-star game in Pittsburgh. The best receiver in that game: Kid named Marvin Harrison ... If I’m Bob O’Billovich, I’m hiring Mike O’Shea as my head coach in Hamilton. He may not have the experience. But he has that ‘it’ factor ... So here’s the question: If the Green Bay Packers are unbeaten after 15 games, do they start Aaron Rodgers in Game 16 or rest him for the playoffs? ... Early on, Wilson declared Dion Phaneuf as the best defenceman in hockey. Which is nice, if not necessarily accurate. Shea Weber is plus-15 in Nashville. Zdeno Chara is plus-15 in Boston. Lidstrom is Lidstrom in Detroit. Phaneuf is neither plus nor minus after 25 games ... Happy birthday to Alex Delvecchio (80), Rick Middleton (58), Gustavo Chacin (31), Marisa Tomei (47), Kristina Groves (35) and Frank Reich (50) ... And hey, whatever became of Shayne Corson?