November 18, 2008

Ron Wilson Hates Alex Steen

Ian White played 17:04 in last night's loss to the first-place (!) Boston Bruins. In stark contrast, Alex Steen saw only 09:58 of ice time.

As much as Matt Stajan has made strides this season, Alex Steen has regressed. It's cause for concern.

I understand that Steen isn't being put in offensive situations, but in a rebuilding year where development is priority number one, shouldn't he be? Steen's got the potential to be a top six forward and in order for him to become one, he's got to play.

So what's the deal, why isn't Steen playing more? Did he call Ron Wilson a pimp, or something? I'd love to hear coach explain. As great as Wilson has been, the facts don't lie, and this Leafs team isn't all that good. Sure, we can score, but the defence sucks and the penalty killing is atrocious. It pains me to say it, but Damien Cox is on to something, and Wilson doesn't deserve a free ride. No way, not when the team is killing penalties only 72% of the time (I just threw up in my mouth). And, yes, I know, the goaltending has been pretty awful. But still. I think it's time we put down our Wilson Kool-Aid cups. 

I'm not sure what the options are when it comes to Alex. I don't think he can be sent to the minors. Frankly, I don't want him to be. The guy can play in the NHL, and is paid accordingly to do so. I think it's simply a case of him not being used appriopriately. I mean, I can't imagine Steen was signed to a two-year, $3.4 million contract to play on the fourth line.

It's amazing that only three years ago Steen and Kyle Wellwood were seen as the cornerstones of the Leafs franchise moving forward. Now Welly, lost for bloody nothing in return, is scoring goals out west and Steen's playing less than ten minutes a game. It's fucked up. Who's to blame - players or coaches and management? I'll let you decide, but I'm pretty confident you know which way I'm leaning.

I don't want the Leafs to give up on Steen. They'll regret it if they do. But he's got to play, and it's as simple as that. I doubt his confidence has ever been lower. As much as I love Jason Blake, he played 18 minutes last night. Wouldn't it make sense for Steen to see that amount of ice time, and get his confidence back where it needs to be? Steen surely needs the minutes more than Blake does, and definitely has a brighter future with the Leafs, three or four years down the road, than #55.

Play Steen, Ron Wilson. Play the shit out of him. Losses be damned.

And Vesa, how about some fucking saves? Jesus.


Johnny G said...

""Who's to blame - players or coaches and management? I'll let you decide, but I'm pretty confident you know which way I'm leaning.""

I'm going to channel my inner Main Stream Media Hack "It's the fans fault" ........ AHHH GET IT OUT DEMON DEMON!

In all seriousness I do agree with you on Steen, Something has had to happen in practice at some point that has rubbed Wilson the wrong way. And if he is going to be here with that contract he needs to be given more chances to play.

That being said I am kind of in a tough spot thinking where he could fit in. You obviously don't want to break up the Poni/Staj/Nik line, nor do you want to break up the Grabs/Nik/Nik line. That leaves Steen stuck on the 3rd or 4th. Granted there is obviously minutes to be had with Blake getting that much time on the ice.

And Wilson needs to do something about Toskala, something is seriously not right there. He had no problem sitting Stajen and Blake for a game, Maybe Cujo gets the next start or two and see what happens?

Lastly the defence... I thought this was supposed to be one of strong suits with such depth on defence. It is killing me to see the PK at 72%. It should not be this bad at all, as individuals our d-men have not looked that bad but overall the team defence has looked horrible.

tbot said...

I remember Steen doing a lot better in the first few games. My worry here is that players might come to see that it is better to become a healthy scratch for a game and get your minutes boosted rather than to languish on the 4th line.

That inconsistency may shake the grounds of Wilson's accountability system and cause the team culture to implode.

On the plus side however, maybe Wilson is giving Blake ice time to pump his value for a trade. Has anyone else noticed the similarities between Blake's and Dustin Penner's contracts? With Burke coming in it almost seems perfect.

Loser Domi said...

"First place Bruins"

Talk about your nightmare fuel...

general borschevsky said...

I mentioned it might be a good idea to sit Steen for a game exactly two weeks ago. When Wilson didn't, I thought it must be because Steen's role is primarily defensive and that Wilson must be happy with the job he's doing.
I think Steen should be capable of being a solid two-way player that puts points on the board. So far his numbers are terrible. I never imagined Stajan would be ahead of him in assists by a 12 to 2 count!

bkblades said...

I'm no going to say anymore about Wellwood (I'll probably end up hating you, you rogue), but I totally agree with you about Steen. I'm all for reclamation projects like White and Blake, but at the cost of sending guys like Steen and Tlusty languishing with barely 9 minutes of ice time?

And this was exactly the essence of all those discussions about Blake really boiled down to for me. Blake is who he is and I've accepted that, regardless of how much he gets paid. But the part that kills me and why I can do without him on the team is that he's taking opportunities away from guys we have to find out where they stand. And it's especially important if and when Burke comes aboard because I can't see this team remaining the same by February.

Hyaena said...

I'm not sure I agree that Steen needs more minutes. I would compare that to the idea that playing Toskala every game will let him play through his funk. Another comparison is Sam Gagner being added to the first line and first powerplay unit in Edmonton to get him scoring. Rewarding poor play is going 180 degrees in the opposite direction. This is not a message I agree with either.

Johnny G said...

Gagner has gotta start doing something! He is killing me in my office pool.

Drake said...

Id like to see Steen get his chances too. I know the guy is capable of doing much more offensively than he is now. I know our top two lines are clicking right now and it might not be wise to juggle them, but like you said there is no reason he cant get as much ice time as someone like Jason Blake.

And I agree with you about Wellwood, though I dont like seeing anybody score against us! He can prove management wrong against other teams.

Anonymous said...

How about Wilson making it mandatory for all players to block at least one shot a game. If you don't you have to do lines after the game.

Solve the Vesa not making saves issue?

PS. Back-up goalie included.

On The Fence Sports

Anonymous said...

Look who made the front page on Kyle Wellwood.

On The Fence Sports