Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Have the Leaf players quit on Ron Wilson?
Last night's game against Nashville was a strange one. The Leafs who were desperate for a win began the game with little energy or discipline. It looked like they wanted to lose. Then Nashville hit a stretch of very undisciplined play that lead to 6 straight minor penalties including three 5 on 3 powerplays. Nashville coach Barry Trotz quickly came out and blamed his players and not the game officials. Despite holding a 4-1 lead, the Predators handed to momentum and the game to the Leafs.
In the end there were some positives coming out of the game besides the win. Luke Schenn once again stepped it up and actually started the comeback. He was a +1 while the other five defensemen were collectively -7. The powerplay came alive. Over the past three weeks they couldn't even score with a two-man advantage. Also Kris Versteeg had his best game as a Leaf and looked very effective playing the point on the powerplay. Finally, Jonas Gustavsson made some big saves when he was sent in the fill in for an injured Giguere.
The game epitomizes the season for the Maple Leafs. Stretches of bad and good hockey have confused everyone. Somehow I think that just maybe some of the Leaf woes are the result of wall between Ron Wilson and his players. We really don't know what goes on in the dressing room but a few things we do know. Wilson continually publicly calls out his players. Now no one likes being thrown under the bus - it leads to resentment. I know when I screw up at work I wouldn't appreciate my boss calling a meeting to tell all the staff about my faux pas. Wilson has a history of doing this and subsequently losing the dressing room. Players will not play full out for a guy they don't like. When the media began asking about how secure Wilson's job was, I noticed that Brian Burke supported his coach but I don't recall a single player standing up for Wilson.
That's why I wonder if replacing the coach might be the best move that Burke can make at this time?