With recent news surfacing that Ron Wilson may be well on his way to becoming the Leafs' next head coach, I can't help but think this is -- yet again -- another step sideways for this stumbling organization.
While Wilson has coached over 1000 games in the NHL and has the most wins out of any coach available (an impressive 518-426-101-46 record) he is also someone who wants to win at this point in his career. If the Leafs were serious about a minimum 3-year rebuilding plan, I highly doubt they'd turn to a man like Wilson. Craig Hartsburg or Dave Taylor would seem like more logical candidates considering they’d take the time to develop the youth and look to future success.
But this doesn't really come as a surprise. MLSE is now known for patching their woes with quick fixes, ones that ultimately cost the jobs of good, hard working people. It's quickly becoming clearer what the Leafs plans are heading into the off-season. Acquire a winning coach, re-sign Mats Sundin, and sign free agents who are not particularly old, but not too young where they'd have to sit in the lower standings for a few years. Throw in a few trades (or buy-outs) that involve Darcy Tucker and Jason Blake -- maybe more -- and we have a slightly different team than last season. But once again, where does that leave us? The answer is somewhere in the middle, a team that is incapable of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, and one who has no promising future ahead of them.
With that said, I'm not saying Wilson is a bad coach. I just think he's better suited for a team like the Ottawa Senators for example, a team that has the tools to win but need the right guidance to push them to the next level. The Leafs on the other hand, are a team that need to rebuild if they wish to subdue this 41-year drought (and counting) with no Cup. Hiring a coach like Wilson is sending the wrong message once again, because I'm almost certain that Wilson wouldn't be interested in developing a young, rebuilding team for 3 years time.
Not only does this halt the Leafs from becoming a young team, but it also refuses players like Kyle Wellwood, Alexander Steen, Matt Stajan, Anton Stralman and Jiri Tlusty, who are already on the team, from getting more responsibility and experience with the club. Not to mention Nikolai Kulemin, who Fletcher says "will play next season".
While all is not written in stone yet, it's becoming increasingly obvious that the Leafs are aiming for that dreadful 8th place once again.