|Ron Wilson, former Leafs coach|
The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired their coach, Ron Wilson. TSN's Darren Dreger broke the news just after 8pm EST today. Following a dreadful month of February, where the Leafs playoff aspirations fell from a near certainty to next to impossible, the move that many expected has been made, and the Leafs fire Wilson.
Wilson has been the coach of the Maple Leafs since the beginning of the 2008-2009 NHL season. He coached the Maple Leafs for just less than four full seasons. His cumulative record with the Leafs was 130-135-45. The Leafs are in a terrible stretch where they have only won once in their last 11 games, with a record of 1-9-1 that seems to have crippled any hope for the post season.
It's being reported that former Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle is new coach for the Maple Leafs. In six full seasons with the Ducks, Carlyle never had a losing season and won the Stanley cup in 2007. Carylye was fired earlier in the season after his Ducks only amassed seven wins in 24 games to open the season. Carlyle has only coached the Ducks in his career. His all time coaching record is 273-182-61. He has also won 36 of the 62 playoffs games for a 0.581 winning percentage.
The word coming from the players in the Leafs dressing room is that it's not Wilson's fault, but coaches get fired when teams are losing. Clarke MacArthur stated that the players in the dressing room are all looking at themselves and can't blame Wilson for their recent string of loses. In any event, there is a big change in the Leafs dressing room, and they will head into Montreal with a new coach on the bench.
The bad news is that many think Wilson was fired too late, had he been fired a week or two ago, the Leafs may have been able to minimize the damage to their season. Currently sitting in the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference standings, the Leafs are five points out of the final playoff spot. The Leafs would have to go 12-5-1 in their last 18 games just to reach 90 points, and that likely wont be enough to give them a playoff birth. Toronto is currently 8th last in the league, and many believe a top ten draft pick would be better than trying to climb back into a playoff race and finishing a few points short of their goal and outside of the top ten when the draft rolls around in June.
Many also believe that Dallas Eakins is ready to become a coach in the NHL as soon as next season. If the hiring of Carlyle is a long-term arrangement, which from all reports I've heard is true, this may mean Eakins will be coaching for another team in the NHL in the near future. Much like when Kirk Muller left the Habs for a full time coaching job elsewhere, the Leafs may be left with a sour taste in their mouths if Carlyle doesn't work out and Eakins has already found a head coaching job in another organization.
At the end of the day, Leaf fans who have been cheering "Fire Wilson" at the ACC and around the city for the past few weeks have had their wish fulfilled. The Leafs play the Canadiens tomorrow in Montreal before returning to Toronto for Tuesday nights match-up against the Bruins.