Coaching Sideshow Continues

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Today the Leafs made a move that is so worthless and senseless that it upsets me that I'm even writing about it.

In case you didn't hear, the Leafs have fired long time assistant coach Keith Acton as well as Tim Hunter. Their replacements will be former Islanders head coach Scott Gordon and Northeastern University head coach Greg Cronin. Cronin was suspended indefinitely from the university in February for recruiting violations.

Avoiding the chopping block this time around is lame duck head coach Ron Wilson. Ron Wilson has yet to make the playoffs during his three year tenure with the Leafs and spent most of last year fighting off fans, the media and even his own players.

Wilson will enter the 11-12 season without a contract extension, which is pretty much a message from upper management that time is running out on the arrogant coach. Unfortunately for fans, this means that Ron Wilson will be given the opportunity to fail yet again before a change is made, which could put another season out on the curb.

What I've gathered from Ron Wilson during his time as the Leafs coach is that it's always someone else's fault. When the team is losing, his argument is that he's not the one lacing up the skates and playing, which is fine because everyone knows how Wilson's 177 career games played went. If you don't know, it pretty much went the same way as his coaching career, a whole lot of losing. Getting back to the point, today is no different than classic Ron Wilson. Wilson watched his assistant coaches get the axe, while he survived on the sidelines. Among those fired was Tim Hunter, who was obviously a good friend of Wilson since he served as his assistant coach in Washington, then San Jose and finally in Toronto. Now I understand it clearly, it must be Tim Hunter responsible for all of Wilson's faults. Now I know that the firings were Burke's doing, but if Ron Wilson is how I think he is, he watched those two pack their bags without any remorse. Afterall, those two deserved this, this was their fault.

Coming in are two new clowns. Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin are a couple of hardass coaches, you know, the type that nobody wants to play for. You can never have enough of those. The Leafs don't know if Kessel wants to re-sign here once his contract is up, today they cleared that up by making sure he won't want to.

Anyways, next week the Leafs take their sideshow to Minnesota for the Draft and you can be sure that Wilson will be on some radio show talking about the Leafs' interest in Brad Richards before the weekend is over.

Checking out,

Patrick Storto
http://twitter.com/PatStorto

9 Comments

Owen Durkin's picture

So just to be clear, how do you feel about Ron Wilson?

With all due respect, some of the comments made are so laden with conjecture, it's tough to take any of this seriously. There's nothing about Gordon or Cronin's professional past that warrants them being labeled as 'clowns', and I'm not sure on what authority you can claim Wilson 'watched without remorse', as his staff left the organization. Regarding Wilson's career, he's one of a small group to get 600 wins, and as a junior he set a number of NCAA scoring records as a defenseman, as well as being named player of the year in 1975.

The 'hardasses' replacing Hunter and Acton have a proven track record, and were chosen by Wilson, when Burke demanded a change. Cronin is a well-respected junior coach and is adept at handling the younger players. He is credited for rebuilding a struggling Northeastern U hockey program. And if Kessel doesn't want to play here because of who the assistant coaches are, that would suggest he has much bigger issues he should contend with. Personally, I don't see any basis for such an assumption.

George Prax's picture

For the record, I'm not going to try and claim i know as much about the Leafs coaching situation as you guys, but I watch a fair amount of Leafs games being from Montreal so I think it's fair to throw my two cents in.

First of all, Owen, you bring up Wilson's scoring stats as a player, and I don't see the relevance of a title earned in 1975, in junior no less, when we're talking about coaching in 2011. Other than some experienced amassed as a player there's little correlation between how good a player you are and how good a coach you might be when you retire. Case in point: Wayne Gretzky.

As for the whole Wilson discussion, i think the fact that people keep saying he's won 600 games is the most overrated stat in the history of any sport, and I'm not being over dramatic. Sure, it's a nice accomplishment, but people often forgot to mention that he hasn't won over 700 games, and that his teams have missed the playoffs more often than they've made them. I don't think he's the right coach for a post-lockout team. He's old school in a lot of his techniques (minus using iPads behind the bench which, frankly, I think is more for appearances than anything) and he often scapegoats other people for his own mistakes and flaws. You can't tell me that someone like Acton, who's been with the Leafs for a decade, as well as Hunter, is responsible for all the Leafs woes these last few years. It's pretty telling when you fire BOTH your assistants the year after everyone thought that you would be fired.

I find it very interesting that one of the new assistants is one letter away from being "cronie".

Owen Durkin's picture

George, I only bring up Wilson's stats as a player as the piece mentioned his playing career in a disparaging way. He was considered a gifted denseman in his day. To the point about his losses, you have to be considered good enough to be the head coach if you can survive long enough to lose as much as you win.

I'm no Wilson apologist; I feel Burke has set the table for the changing of the guard should his college buddy fail to move the needle on this group any further. I disagree with the assumptions made about Wilson's character, and the needless insulting characterizations of the new people.

George Prax's picture
Owen Durkin wrote:

George, I only bring up Wilson's stats as a player as the piece mentioned his playing career in a disparaging way. He was considered a gifted denseman in his day. To the point about his losses, you have to be considered good enough to be the head coach if you can survive long enough to lose as much as you win.

I'm no Wilson apologist; I feel Burke has set the table for the changing of the guard should his college buddy fail to move the needle on this group any further. I disagree with the assumptions made about Wilson's character, and the needless insulting characterizations of the new people.

Fair enough about his playing career, I didn't consider that. I'm not saying that Wilson wasn't once a good coach, but like with most coaches who have that many games coached, he's behind the times. Martin is one of the most winningest coaches of all time too, and we all hate him here. Lemaire is a winner but he's not the right post-lockout coach. Wilson is definitely in that group.

Patrick Storto's picture

You don't see a basis for assumption? So that spat between Kessel and Wilson last season never happened? Now there's more coaches like Wilson. It's easy to jump on Kessel, but when you factor in that Ron Wilson was voted the coach that players would least like to play for league wide last season, I'm more than happy to give Kessel the benefit of the doubt.

If you want to get into the 600 wins argument, don't forget to mention that he's one of a small group to get 600 losses.

And how exactly do these guys have a proven track record? Scott Gordon coached two seasons on Long Island, both of which saw the Islanders finish dead last in their division. Cronin, coached a university team, hardly proven and is known by some to be a bit controversial.

Sadly, after 600 wins and 600 losses, Ron Wilson is unproven. He's a clown that loves to be in the media despite criticizing the media. He's a hypocrite and the wrong coach for this team, if not any team.

Owen Durkin's picture

Kessel played much better after his 'spat' with Wilson, and actually broke out of the slump. re: Wilson's record, Babe Ruth led the league in another stat besides homers. Wanna guess what that was? I'll help you. It was strikeouts. By your logic, Babe Ruth would be 'unproven'.Gordon has successful resume with the US national programme. I wouldnt be too quick to criticize for having difficulties with NYI, a franchise on the brink of shambles. Cronin revitalized a depleted Northeastern programme and returned it to respectability. He is highly regarded throughout the hockey community.

Owen Durkin's picture

...This is exactly what makes The Checking Line such an interesting place to come for hockey news and opinions, and I think it's great. We both write about the same team, and clearly have opposing views on this (and likely other) subjects related to the Blue and White. Without the contrast in opinion, coverage would be bland and unbalanced. Thanks for contributing, looking forward to 'butting heads' in the months to come!

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

I see it as those two assistants have been there for a long time. Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't Acton been there for a while? Detroit said it needed new assistant's to "get new ideas" and for the players to "hear different voices of reason." I think it's a smart move by the Leafs to bring someone new in. Maybe they need those "hard-ass" coaches to get the job done. I wouldn't judge until after this year anyways.

Patrick Storto's picture

Owen, the difference is that Babe Ruth was an elite player and so they were willing to look past his faults for what he does. Mark Reynolds, a present day home run hitter also strikes out a lot, but nobody wants the guy. Babe Ruth also proved him self at the MLB level. Gordon and Cronin cannot be compared to Babe Ruth. They are not even close to elite at what they do or they would be head coaches somewhere. They are not proven until they actually do something at the NHL level. Alexandre Daigle more than proved himself in junior, is he a proven player?

Kyle, yes Acton has been there a long time, pre-lockout and before Burke and Wilson ever showed up. I wasn't as much shocked that they let him go as I was Tim Hunter. Hunter has been apart of Wilson's coaching staff in three different cities now, it seems like Wilson is pushing the blame on him. Yes I think it was time for the entire staff to go, but why is the leader still here?

The Red Wings situation is completely different. Mike Babcock is a successful coach and can make these sorts of changes if he feels there needs to be a change. In Toronto, Ron Wilson is the weakness.