If Wilson goes ... then who?

Burke and Carlyle won the Stanley Cup together with the Ducks in 2007, and there’s no coach out of...

Burke and Carlyle won the Stanley Cup together with the Ducks in 2007, and there’s no coach out of work with whom Burke has a greater familiarity. (REUTERS/M. J. Masotti Jr.)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:02 PM ET

Conventional wisdom says that if the Maple Leafs miss the playoffs this spring, Ron Wilson’s four-season run as head coach in Toronto will end.

The Leafs won’t have been playoff participants since 2004, and even the loyal Brian Burke has to know that he couldn’t sell another season under Wilson to those who are ardent supporters of the Leafs (keeping in mind the Leafs general manager will tell anyone who’s listening that he doesn’t care what others think).

Wilson has his extension for next season and Burke is on record as saying Wilson would have a job “in two weeks” if he was canned, so what’s there to worry about for one of his oldest friends?

We’ve assembled a list of potential coaches — keep in mind, it doesn’t include every potential candidate, as there will be more once teams start making off-season changes — should Burke decide to let Wilson go once the regular season ends.

Of course, feel free to disregard if the Leafs pull off the unimaginable and storm back to earn a spot in the playoffs.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Randy Carlyle

Some think that Burke’s old pal from their Anaheim days simply is waiting in the wings, but would Burke be that transparent? Carlyle has been out of work since he was fired by the Ducks in November, just days after the Leafs won in Anaheim. Burke and Carlyle won the Stanley Cup together with the Ducks in 2007, and there’s no coach out of work with whom Burke has a greater familiarity. In six seasons behind the Ducks bench, Carlyle missed the playoffs just once (kind of makes you dream, eh Leafs Nation?). By the way, Carlyle’s nature with the media is such that Wilson looks like a ray of sunshine by comparison.

Marc Crawford

Crawford has been out of coaching work since he was fired by the Dallas Stars last April, but has stayed close to the game as an analyst for TSN. Like Carlyle, Crawford has a history with Burke, but it’s not as successful. Burke hired Crawford in Vancouver in January of 1999, and Crawford outlasted Burke, only to be fired by David Nonis in 2006. Crawford’s best days as an NHL coach were in the first several years of his career, when he won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. There were some good times in Vancouver, but in his five most recent seasons in the NHL, including two each with Los Angeles and Dallas, he did not get to the playoffs.

Mike Keenan

Ken Hitchcock noted the differences in the NHL game that he had to adjust to when he took over the St. Louis Blues in November, and undoubtedly there would be a period of adjustment for Keenan, who has been away longer than Hitchcock was. Known as Iron Mike, the 62-year-old Keenan has not been behind an NHL bench since the Calgary Flames fired him in 2009. Keenan is fifth on the NHL’s career list with 672 victories, 24 up on sixth-place Wilson, and is sixth with 1,386 games coached. Fired by Burke in 1999 in Vancouver, you have to wonder if the NHL is done with Keenan, as he did not receive any calls when teams were hiring last summer.

READY TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP?

Dallas Eakins

If not Carlyle, then Eakins? Perhaps. Building up lots of respect as head coach of the Toronto Marlies and undoubtedly will get interviews for NHL head coaching jobs this summer if not here. Leafs have some good prospects, yes, and Eakins has done fine work developing them.

Mike Haviland

Highly regarded Chicago Blackhawks assistant was the runner-up for the job that went to Claude Noel in Winnipeg last summer. Also had a lot of interest in Florida before Kevin Dineen was hired. Won two East Coast Hockey League titles as a head coach.

Brad Shaw

The ex-NHL defenceman had a brief stint as head coach of the New York Islanders in 2005-06 and currently is an assistant under Ken Hitchcock with the St. Louis Blues. Shaw, many think, has done his time as an assistant is prepared to be an NHL head coach.

Todd Nelson

Head coach of the Edmonton Oilers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Oklahoma City spent a couple of seasons as an assistant with the Atlanta Thrashers. Has won championships as a head coach in the United Hockey League.

Patrick Roy

Rather unlikely, but all his Quebec Remparts teams do in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is win hockey games. Suited more to a gig in Quebec City if the NHL goes there, but his unguarded approach when in front of microphones would be great in Toronto.

And then there is ...

Scott Gordon

The former New York Islanders head coach already is on the Leafs’ staff as an assistant, but likely would be nothing more than interim if anything. Can’t see him being the next head coach in Toronto over the long haul.

John Anderson

Had a super career coaching in the minors with the Chicago Wolves, but hit a bit of a roadblock in two seasons as head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Toronto native and former Leaf now is an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Andy Murray

Out of the NHL for just over two years, Murray is running the bench at Western Michigan University. In 738 games behind the bench of the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings, Murray won 333 games. The 60-year-old, you would think, would love another crack at the NHL.

Craig Ramsay

He’ll go down as the last head coach in the history of the Thrashers, but has volume of experience. Ramsay has been the head coach of three NHL teams, but never has had a true opportunity to leave his mark.


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