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Brian Burke says Ron Wilson is a “Hall of Fame coach”

Brian Burke

Leafs general manager Brian Burke met with the media today to discuss the extension of coach Ron Wilson’s contract. As per usual, Burke provided reporters with some memorable sound bites. (There’s audio of the scrum here. Just cover your ears for the first two seconds. You’ll thank me).

So, why did Burke commit to Wilson past this season even though the team could still miss the playoffs?

“I think it’s important that the players know that the coach isn’t going anywhere,” Burke said. “When the coach goes into the cage, he needs the chair and the whip.”

And if the Leafs don’t make the playoffs?

“You can ask me that at the end of the season,” Burke replied. “I’m not interested in hypothetical questions.”

Can he clarify the term of Wilson’s extension?

“I can clarify term, but I won’t,” said Burke. (TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted earlier that it was a one-year deal.)

Burke heaped praise on Wilson, calling him a “Hall of Fame coach…if you can get into the Hall of Fame without a Cup.”

Burke also claimed, “If the Toronto Maple Leafs fired Ron Wilson, he’d be working again in about two weeks,”

For those that would question the decision to stick with a coach that’s missed the playoffs his first three season behind the bench, Burke made sure to shoulder most of the blame for the Leafs’ shortcoming under his watch, saying he’s only been expecting results out of Wilson since last season’s all-star break.

“Up until then I feel that I haven’t given (the Leafs) good enough players,” Burke said, adding later, “I’m disappointed in how long it’s taken me to do this.”

But the burden, Burke says, has now “shifted to the coach.”