Ron Wilson

Maple Leafs shuffle assistant coaches; Is Ron Wilson on thin ice?

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When it comes to following personnel decisions, there are many times when it’s tough not to read between the lines. Perhaps the most famous moment of a press conference telling the exact opposite of the story happened when Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson hammed it up about the coach’s departure when it was clear Jones jettisoned Johnson after a clash of egos.

While it’s not something that the team admitted to, many people are reading between the lines regarding the changes that have been made to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ coaching staff. The team added two new assistant coaches (Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin) while parting ways with two old ones (Keith Acton and Tim Hunter).

Most precisely, people are wondering if head coach Ron Wilson’s job might be in danger. Leafs GM Brian Burke either hasn’t decided to give Wilson a contract extension (Wilson’s deal expires after the 2011-12 season) or wasn’t given the power to do so.

Here is Wilson’s three year run with the Maple Leafs:

2008-09 season: 34-35-13 (81 pts)
2009-10 season: 30-38-14 (74 pts)
2010-11 season: 37-34-11 (85 pts)

On one hand, Toronto made a dramatic (but unsuccessful) late run for a playoff spot in 10-11 and showed some promise along the way. That being said, Wilson is about to enter his fourth season as Toronto’s coach without producing a single playoff run. In fact, the team hasn’t made the playoffs in the post-lockout era and that franchise/fan base isn’t exactly known for its patience. One must wonder if Wilson will be in danger of losing his job if the team has a bad start or misses the postseason once more.

A quick bit of info about the new assistants

Gordon is the former head coach of the New York Islanders and served as an assistant coach for the 2010 U.S. Olympic team under Wilson and Burke. Cronin was most recently a college hockey head coach at Northeastern University.

Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?

Coyotes exploit another lousy outing from Quick

Jonathan Quick

Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.

Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.

Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).


A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:

Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.

It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.


After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.

Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.