Times Colonist

Leafs set to hire Wilson

- MICHAEL TRAIKOS

TORONTO — The search for a president and general manager remains ongoing. But the Toronto Maple Leafs have reportedly found someone to coach the beleaguere­d franchise next season.

Ron Wilson, who was fired by the San Jose Sharks after the team was eliminated from the second round of the playoffs last month, was believed to be in Toronto last night to accept a head coaching job with the Leafs.

“We’re in negotiatio­ns right now with a coach and hopefully we’ll get it resolved in the near future,” interim general manager Cliff Fletcher told reporters in Detroit, before getting on a plane for Toronto.

The hiring of Wilson, who is considered to be the top candidate available, comes as a surprise.

When Fletcher fired head coach Paul Maurice last month, he told reporters that finding a replacemen­t was not an immediate priority, because the team was still seeking a president and general manager.

“Ideally the new person who’s going to be here in the future should be the one selecting the coach because they have to work together,” Fletcher said then.

The question is whether hiring Wilson will be enough to immediatel­y change the direction of the Leafs.

In his four-and-a-half seasons in San Jose, the veteran coach guided the Sharks to an impressive 206-134-45 record, two divisional titles and four straight playoff appearance­s. This season, he set a franchise record with 108 points.

For all the regular-season success, Wilson’s Sharks have been criticized for struggling in the post-season. San Jose was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs the last three years.

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