Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox has some thoughts on Leafs GM Brian Burke extending the contract of head coach Ron Wilson.
Wilson and Burke have talked ad nauseum about getting rid of “blue-and-white disease” in the dressing room. But there is no greater expression of blue-and-white disease, basically defined as accepting what others would see as average result as excellence, than that which Burke has delivered in extending Wilson at this time.
Mikhail Grabovski and John-Michael Liles, both in the last year of their contracts, must play on without new deals.
But not Fibber Ron. He gets taken care of.
The money angle is interesting. Some folks, like Cox, argue Wilson’s extension is nothing more than a Christmas bonus, on par with tipping the paperboy or leaving beer for the garbageman. Why? Because come season’s end, that extension will have no bearing on Wilson’s employment future:
He makes the playoffs, he’ll stay as Leaf coach. He misses, he won’t. This extension is mostly about feathering his nest, at least in terms of certainty. He’ll get his money, which is apparently what he wanted under his tree and Brian Burke was happy to provide.
The deep-pocketed Leafs aren’t going to let a contract extension keep them from firing a coach. This is Toronto, not Anaheim (no offense to the Ducks, but the financials made them hesitant to turf Randy Carlyle after extending him through 2014.) If Wilson needs to go at season’s end, Wilson’s going to go — but he’ll still be getting paid.
Which brings us back to the Burke-Wilson relationship. The former roommates at Providence College have had each others’ backs for years, so this latest move shouldn’t come as much of a shock. But is the extension really “openly embracing mediocrity”…or is it just Burke’s way of giving Wilson his gold watch a little early?