October 13, 2009


Five games into the season, we Leafs fans have a lot to be thankful for: the NHL's only winless team (the New York Islanders don't count), its worst defensive club (24 goals against in five games), a 63% success rate on the penalty kill, and a "starting goalie" with a .812 save percentage and 5.56 GAA.

The roster isn't strong. I get that. But I shouldn't be left weeping every time I tune in to watch a game.

While I've never much believed in the notion that a coach has a hand in how his team starts a game, or a period, I'm beginning to wonder about Ron Wilson. It's much easier to blame him for the fact the Leafs seem to always be trailing by a goal or two five minutes after the puck drops. And I've got to blame someone not named Vesa Toskala.

Granted it's only been a year and change, but horrendous defensive zone play and suspect penalty killing have begun to define Wilson's tenure in Toronto. Hopefully that'll change once Jonas Gustavsson takes up permanent residence between the pipes, but I'm worried. Enough to be thinking about the ex, Paul Maurice. And no Leafs coach should ever leave me pining for Maurice's return. I just can't shake the feeling: if Wilson couldn't get it done in San Jose, there's no way he accomplishes anything of substance (playoffs!!1) with the Maple Leafs.

In all seriousness: I think I might have actually, truly convinced myself that the Leafs would quality for the post-season. That's what makes the 0-4-1 start so difficult. Truculence is great and all, but I'd rather it be served in victory. There's only so many useless, staged fights I can watch.

The Joey MacDonald era kicks off tonight, and I hope it begins with me looking skywards in gratitude, rather than despair. I know; we're really reaching now.

As for Toronto's 77 games left on the schedule, I don't know whether to be thankful for them or not.

UPDATE: Toskala's injured. How convenient. And Tyler Bozak has been freed.


Ryan said...

Directing frustration with the team's sloppiness at Wilson is an understandable enough temptation, but comparing him unfavourably to Maurice is a step too far. This team looks like their coach doesn't have them in line. The Maurice teams looked like they didn't have a coach at all.

I believe in Ron Wilson.

general borschevsky said...

They looked like they didn't have a coach last night. Last season I gave Wilson a pass 'cause I was led to believe that there was a bigger picture but I do remember the Leafs seeming horribly unprepared for some games.

Last night, the team with the league's worst PK heading into the game took two penalties to give the Rangers and 5-on-3 just 2 minutes 5 seconds into the game.
That's a team that's not very well coached. Maybe this is what happens when a coach is too close to the General Manager. There's no accountability with the players 'cause they sense there's no real accountability for the coach.

kushnir said...

i never thought i'd say this, but these random fights when were getting our ass kicked has to stop.

theres something to be said for a fight every couple of games, but hwne the same 3 guys are fighting once+ every game, its kinda loses all meaning.

nobody on the bench is going to get pumped up from a fight when ur down 3-0 in the first period, again.

Leafer1984 said...

I don't think Wilson can coach a Burke type team. Contrasting styles.

eyebleaf said...

@ Ryan: Believe me, I know comparing Wilson to Maurice is pretty much ridiculous. But no Maurice team got off to this horrendous a start, and we sniffed the playoffs under Paul. Under Wilson, .500 hockey seems like a pipe dream. Wilson has shown me nothing so far to make me think that he might be the right coach. About the only positive I can think of right now is the benching of Jason Blake, and how it got him to play better.

@ General: Your comment goes to my point; when does the free pass for Wilson end? I know the roster isn't good, and I know the goaltending is suspect, but when does the coach get blamed for his team running around in their own zone, and simply unable to kill a God damn penalty?

And, GB, you make a great point about the coach and GM being really tight. A coach should always feel some sort of pressure. It seems b/c of his relationship with Burke, Wilson is coasting? I don't know.

@ Kush: The fights right after the puck drops during a faceoff are ridiculous. Sure, it was cool the first two times, but now it's just stupid. These guys like Orr and Rosehill aren't worth having up. I'm glad to see some changes, with Bozak coming up.

@ Leafer: Well he couldn't coach a skilled San Jose team to the final, either. I don't know. It just doesn't seem to be working for him right now.

kushnir said...

fuck this team could have some actual talent with bozak kadri kessel hanson stalberg.

and eyebleaf, i actually like rosehill, he skates hard, forchecks we'll and finished checks. not the most talented guy on the team, but ill take him over the likes of orr, or mayers anyday

Zack said...

On the plus side, according to USA Today, the Maple Leafs have been responsible for almost half of the Rangers 16 Original Six losses since the Lockout.

Q-girl said...

I feel like I have a kindred spirit among the leafs fans, but you can't truly bitch until your team has gone 1-10-0-1. I find it strange that the leaf's are constantly recruiting new fans, such as WAC. I wonder if these new fans actually like what they see on the ice or if they just like the drama.

Kadri wouldn't make this team better, he will, however, have a much larger impact on his CHL team. Don't drag the children into this. I hate when people want to force Jr players into the NHL too quickly. Brandi and Monica's rendition of "the boy is mine" comes to mind for us CHL fans whenever NHL fans insist that their teams steal our players prematurely.

"Dave Schultz" said...

I've been a depressed fan of this team for years (what the hell is it with TO teams???)

Eternal hope and optimism is great, but so is reality. The reality is that ToskaLOL sucked last year, he likely wasn't going to magically improve over the summer. That's reality.

Ron Wilson has proven (to me at least) that he is a mediocre coach--and I am also a fan of a Paul Maurice coached team. Even when RW had all the talent of the Sharks, they floundered often and early in the playoffs.

Just bringing in Burke as GM, and all his "truculence" is a step in the right direction--possibly. I'm not one that necessarily agreed with his decision to trade away 1st rounders for Kessel.

The staged fights are just turning this pathetic team into a complete joke. I'm all for pugnacity, but it also has to be backed up on the scoreboard or it's a farce.

All this coming from someone who chose to watch baseball over the Leafs last night because I knew it would suck.

kushnir said...

@ Qgirl- im actually friends with nos, and trust when i say other then some size and grit, he would instantly become the TOP forward on the leafs minus kessel. the guy creates offensive where there is none, and that is someting the leafs are in dire need of.

TC said...

This has the makings of the longest Leaf season EVER. Wilson needs to get these guys back to basics. Sort out you own zone and things should fall in place.

I like fights as much as anyone but not just for the sake of fighting. I'd rather see some inspired play from the young guys and have the scrappers in their back pocket.

TC said...

All We hear from Wilson is player bashing and shots at the media. When do we some of this great coaching ... 1000 games... great how many cups ... this team isn't just low on talent, it's poorly coached as well.