Hey, have you heard? The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t very good thus far this season.
That’s an oversized understatement, like saying Shakira should never again, under any circumstances, be permitted to sing in public – even if hostages are involved and her dolphin-like squeal is the sole way to secure their release. (Sorry, theoretical hostages.)
And it could get worse. By the time you read this, the Leafs might have lost their sixth straight game – and to a Colorado Avalanche team whose hopes of playoff participation are shared only by immediate blood-relatives and people trapped in the year 2000.
Even if the Buds beat Colorado and win their first game this season, Leafs Nation may remain Conster Nation in the coming weeks. Phil Kessel won’t be healthy enough to play until November; rookie goalie Jonas Gustavsson won’t be rushed back from a groin injury; and Jason Blake won’t stop firing wrist shots from center ice anytime soon.
But there’s one thing Toronto GM Brian Burke could do to ensure his team stays at the bottom of the NHL standings: fire head coach Ron Wilson.
Strange as it sounds to pink-slip a coach less than 10 percent of the way through the regular season, there already have been suggestions Wilson’s players have tuned him out and that Burke could turn things around by showing Wilson the door.
That notion might work – if the Leafs had a collection of forwards who weren’t 99-and-44-100ths foot-solider/worker-bee and 56-100ths scoring skill.
Fact is, no authority figure – not Scotty Bowman, not Vince Lombardi, not Willy Wonka nor Full Metal Jacket’s vicious drill sergeant – could do better with a group that calls Matt Stajan its No. 1 center and Blake its go-to scorer.
And did nobody notice the standup job Wilson did as Toronto’s coach last season? I haven’t seen that much blood squeezed from that many stones since my Scottish relatives assembled for our annual family budget jamboree.
Firing Wilson rewards the players for their lousy play. Allowing him to make the lives of Leafs players miserable until the team improves is a far better solution.
This article also appeared in the Toronto Metro paper.