Brian Burke

Brian Burke says Ron Wilson is a “Hall of Fame coach”


Leafs general manager Brian Burke met with the media today to discuss the extension of coach Ron Wilson’s contract. As per usual, Burke provided reporters with some memorable sound bites. (There’s audio of the scrum here. Just cover your ears for the first two seconds. You’ll thank me).

So, why did Burke commit to Wilson past this season even though the team could still miss the playoffs?

“I think it’s important that the players know that the coach isn’t going anywhere,” Burke said. “When the coach goes into the cage, he needs the chair and the whip.”

And if the Leafs don’t make the playoffs?

“You can ask me that at the end of the season,” Burke replied. “I’m not interested in hypothetical questions.”

Can he clarify the term of Wilson’s extension?

“I can clarify term, but I won’t,” said Burke. (TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted earlier that it was a one-year deal.)

Burke heaped praise on Wilson, calling him a “Hall of Fame coach…if you can get into the Hall of Fame without a Cup.”

Burke also claimed, “If the Toronto Maple Leafs fired Ron Wilson, he’d be working again in about two weeks,”

For those that would question the decision to stick with a coach that’s missed the playoffs his first three season behind the bench, Burke made sure to shoulder most of the blame for the Leafs’ shortcoming under his watch, saying he’s only been expecting results out of Wilson since last season’s all-star break.

“Up until then I feel that I haven’t given (the Leafs) good enough players,” Burke said, adding later, “I’m disappointed in how long it’s taken me to do this.”

But the burden, Burke says, has now “shifted to the coach.”

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: