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Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke gives Ron Wilson the vote of confidence

Nov 8, 2010, 4:46 PM EDT

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There are many phrases, statements and sentences in life that are often considered “a kiss of death.”

Take relationships, for instance. If a woman is adamant about calling you a “really nice guy,” you might as well change your zip code to the “friend zone.” When either party begins a conversation with “We need to talk … ” you probably won’t be speaking much longer.

Sports probably maintain quite a few examples, but the best one might be when a general manager or owner gives a coach a vote of confidence. More often than not, that same GM hands that supposedly safe bench boss his walking papers about a month or so later. In the end, the vote of confidence isn’t all that different than a death row appeal – it’s merely a temporary reprieve.

The most recent dead coach walking seems to be Toronto coach Ron Wilson. The local media is notorious for turning on the experienced manager, but considering the fact that the team lost eight of its last night games, the calls for his head aren’t crazy. Yet, much like Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray and coach Randy Carlyle, Brian Burke is pointing his finger at the players, not Wilson. Here is what Burke said to TSN.

“If you watch the game films and show me one thing Ronnie did wrong, then come back and ask me about it. The answer to your question is yes, the coach is safe,” Burke told The Star at a sports management conference that he was co-chairing.

(snip)

“Did Ron play poorly last night? No. Why don’t you guys focus on the players who played poorly last night instead of questioning the coach,” Burke said to The Star. “We have players who aren’t performing at a proper level on a nightly basis. That has to change.”

Honestly, I think that if anyone should get canned, it’s Burke. Yet what would that really accomplish? The Leafs are a work in progress and while many mistakes were made, the story is still incomplete. Perhaps with some patience, Burke and Wilson can figure things out.

Unless they both dug themselves a hole that is too deep.

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