It matters not, this contract extension Ron Wilson is gloating over. Or at least, it changes nothing.
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.
What does matter, in a larger sense, is that this is an undeniable instance of Burke’s hockey club openly embracing mediocrity.
Miss the playoffs three straight years, then get to 14th overall in a 30-team league with a weak defensive record (25th out of 30) and the worst penalty killing (30th out of 30) in hockey and the coach responsible for it all gets a handsome, multi-million reward.
“Winning if necessary but not necessarily winning.” It was a cheeky, mock phrase applied to the Leafs that originated in the Steve Stavro ownership days, but rings just as true today.
This extension proves it.
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.