Wilson's tenure with Leafs is on the line
The perpendicular world of Ron Wilson is in vogue as yet another Maple Leafs season is set to begin.
Never has Wilson begun a season under such scrutiny in his time as Toronto coach, and never has he liked his Leafs lineup more than he does right now.
He has always talked a better game than his Maple Leafs have played since he arrived, promising the world but delivering something less. That’s what makes him both engaging and annoying. This is his last real shot for survival. He is coaching for a contract. There is no next year for Wilson if this isn’t a playoff season.
“It seems I’ve always been under heat here, so no matter what we do, there’s going to be pressure,” said Wilson, after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m used to that. Whatever happens, happens.”
The words may read like he’s being flippant, but he’s not. In his fourth season coaching the Leafs, he knows better than anyone that failure is no longer an option. His contract is up. So, just about, is his time.
The belief Brian Burke has in him is real but even Burke is smart enough to know the same coach can’t miss the playoffs four years in a row and continue on the job unless that coach’s name is Barry Trotz.
Wilson is used to both pressure and expectations. He needs to make the playoffs. He needs to get off to a decent start. He needs to avoid the early season swoon and mid-season collapse that has hindered his previous seasons. And he’s feeling bullish about the team knowing two things: 1) He has no real idea what his starting lineup will look like Thursday night against Montreal 2) He hates the Leafs early season schedule, with too many home games against too many opponents of a lesser calibre.