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Maple Leafs confirm coach Ron Wilson’s extension
The Maple Leafs have returned to respectability in the Eastern Conference since then, and Burke rewarded Ron Wilson for the turnaround, confirming Monday that the veteran coach has signed a contract extension.
“This coach has earned this extension,” Burke said. “It’s not charity, it’s not a gift.”
“It’s pretty impressive, it’s certainly a healthy clip,” Burke said.
The 56-year-old Wilson was in the final season of a four-year deal.
“When the coach goes into the cage, he needs the chair and the whip _ not just one,” Burke said. “It’s not enough to just be the coach for the rest of the season, in my opinion.
“So I think it’s an important statement. I think there’s a respect level involved and I think it was the right thing to do.”
“`He came! He came!’ Remember saying that as a little kid? Well he did: I got a new Red Ryder BB gun and a contract extension!” Wilson posted Sunday on his Twitter account.
Wilson said the quest for results remains just as high, even with the increased contract security.
“I’ve seen lots of coaches get fired this year with lots of (contract) term left, so the pressure doesn’t change,” he said after the Leafs practiced Monday. “It’s still the same. I could get fired next week for all I know. So I have a little bit of combat pay coming in other words.
“That’s kind of the way I look at it.”
Wilson has also coached in Anaheim, Washington and San Jose. Over 18 seasons, he has a career record of 637-546 with 101 ties and 88 overtime losses.
“He hasn’t been out of work very long,” Burke said. “There’s a reason for that. The hockey community believes in this guy.”
Fans have had a mixed view of Wilson’s performance since his arrival in Toronto.
His future is regularly debated on sports-talk radio in the hockey-mad city. Chants of “Fire Wilson” have also been heard at Air Canada Centre over the years with the Leafs failing to reach the postseason.
However, Burke said there are usually clear signs when it’s time to make a coaching change and he hasn’t seen them.
“You have agents calling you and complaining that the players don’t like the coach and aren’t going to play for him,” Burke said. “You have what we call snipers _ unnamed players taking shots _ and there has been none of that since I’ve been here.
“In fact, I had players come to me last year telling me, `Don’t change the coach.’ So it hasn’t been nearly as big an issue or a debate as it’s been outside the room or outside of our organization.”
By Tammy Bruce
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