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article imageOp-Ed: Maple Leafs hit bottom, time for Ron Wilson to hit the pavement

By Marcus Hondro     Feb 29, 2012 in Sports
The Toronto Maple Leaf players clearly like GM Brian Burke, to a man they were grateful he had faith in them after leaving the team intact during the yearly sideshow known as the NHL trade deadline. But, it would seem, they don't like coach Ron Wilson.
Why else would the team tank so badly, and at home, against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 28, their first game after the deadline had passed? Every game is the most important of the season now, yet they played with no drive, as if the results were as meaningful as the media frenzy over Angelina Jolie's right leg. After getting their endorsement from Burke it seems they're now looking for a new coach from him.
Ron Wilson: "It's frustrating"
And it's time that Burke obliged. And why not? Their long-time association together shouldn't stop Burke from seeing the writing on the wall, or in this case the stats sheet. Since beating the Edmonton Oilers 6-3 at the ACC Feb. 6 the Leafs have gone 1-8-1, scoring half as many goals as allowing, 20-40. Their only win was against the Oilers, a 4-3 final in Edmonton on the 15th. Their home record over this span is 0-4-1, woeful to say the least.
Wilson, whose decision to throw James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson to the media wolves last week has proven to be the wrong approach, doesn't have any answers and seemed to be blaming the booing and chants of 'Fire Wilson' on, well, on anything but Ron Wilson. "We didn't do anything at the trade deadline and we came out tentative to say the least," he told media after the Panthers debacle. "We talked ad nauseum to the team about...finding our focus and we weren't ready to start the game."
In other words - he's talking and his players are not listening. Isn't that when you'd fire the coach? Especially considering the urgency, it should be. There's been no playoff hockey in Toronto, formerly a flagship franchise of the NHL and now a perennially flagging one, since 2003. The only other team that hasn't been there over the same span of time? The Florida Panthers, who, judging by Tuesday, appear to want to break that streak more than do the Leafs.
Maple Leafs Stanley Cup playoffs drought
Firing coaches leads to a team picking up and taking off - just ask the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, who took off all the way to the Stanley Cup final, which they won, going 18-3-4 to end the regular season after replacing Michel Therrien. That may be too much to ask from this group, but effort and cohesion, drive, that's not too much to ask. And neither is the Stanley Cup playoffs.
It's time.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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