Wilson's job is super-safe
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke will not fire his
head coach as punishment for his team's disintegrating season,
saying Ron Wilson's job is "as safe as the gold in the treasury at
In an expansive and entertaining question-and-answer session with reporters on Thursday, Burke conceded frustration with the way the Leafs have been playing. But he said that frustration would not prompt him to ask defenseman Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause, nor would it lead to regret in the surrender of two first-round draft picks in exchange for struggling forward Phil Kessel.
Toronto had lost four in a row before winning Thursday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers, its second win in its last eight games. The Leafs had the National Hockey League's worst penalty-kill (68.1 percent) and sat 28th of 30 teams in the overall standings as Burke addressed the media prior to the Flyers game.
"I don't fault the coaches at all for where we are," he said. "There is not going to be a coaching change here. That's not been considered, discussed, whatever."
"Some people would say that's because you guys are friends," a veteran radio reporter suggested.
"Well," Burke said, "some people would be idiots if they said that."
Burke and Wilson have been friends for decades, having been teammates at Providence College. Wilson is in the second season of a four-year contract reported to be worth around $1.6 million annually.
"All I expect Burkie to do is his job, and if there are issues, to speak to me about it," Wilson said. "We're professionals. If Burkie thinks the best thing is to change coaches, then I would expect him to act professional and do it. And if he did it, it wouldn't have anything to do with our friendship."
One thing Burke said he would not do is approach Kaberle to surrender his no-trade clause. The 31-year-old, who is under contract for the bargain price of $4.25-million through next season, took the ice Thursday as the team leader in assists (35) and points (39).
"Kaberle has been a great Leaf, he's a great guy," Burke said. "He's played well and hard for us, and has been a quality citizen. He earned that fair and square, and I am not going to ask him to waive it."
Burke said he sent a note to Kaberle's agent saying as much on Wednesday, and said the notion of fairness to a veteran player outweighs the quality of any offers the Leafs might field for the defenseman's services.