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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs conduct business is always an interesting proposition.

Unlike watching a well-oiled success story like the Detroit Red Wings, a team that hires well, scouts well and gets the desired results, the Leafs are more like watching a drunken sailor on leave trying to weave his way through traffic while traveling westbound on Highway 401 East – on a bicycle.

The Leafs fired coach Paul Maurice on the premise they wanted their new GM to pick his own man to stand behind the bench. Now, before the new GM has been signed, the Leafs have turned the coaching reins over to Ron Wilson. Not a bad transaction in and of itself, but not exactly following the game plan as laid out by interim GM Cliff Fletcher just a few weeks ago.

And, given it is the Leafs we are talking about, it’s not surprising either. This is, after all, a team that once fired coach Roger Neilson and then, upon rethinking the decision, wanted him to return to the bench wearing a paper bag over his head. And an organization that allowed its coach, Red Kelly, to put pyramids under the bench for good luck.

Ron Wilson is a good coach who is highly intelligent and quite witty, which will serve him well in Toronto. But he wants to win and he signs on at a time when, truth be told, it would be better long-term for this team to be lousy for one more year. The possibility of getting a lottery draft pick leading to the selection of John Tavares or Victor Hedman should be Toronto’s No. 1 goal.

But it won’t be.

No matter how many times people talk or write about the benefits of attaining high draft picks and building through the draft the way Philadelphia, Chicago and Edmonton have done recently, the Leafs will buck the trend hoping to sneak into the final playoff spot where they will surely lose out in the first round.

And the Stanley Cup drought will continue.

Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

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