Wednesday, March 23, 2011

James Reimer has saved Ron Wilson's job

The second half surge by the Maple Leafs has ensured that Ron Wilson will survive to at least complete the last year of his 4 year contract. Sure the team is winning on the back of their rookie goalie James Reimer. But if it’s the coach’s fault when a team loses then doesn’t the coach get credit when they win? Obviously it’s not all black and white.

Coaches can accomplish only so much with weak rosters and even less if the weak roster includes bad goaltending. When has Wilson had good goaltending since coming to Toronto? I think we all agree just the last 2 or 3 months. In a rebuild you are going to get some really bad players because your roster tends to be filled with young players not ready for the NHL and a bunch of marginal players who best suited for third and fourth lines.

Wilson’s resume suggests he is a good coach even if he has never won a Stanley Cup. I had some concerns earlier this season that players were not responding to him. Losing the dressing room is a coach killer. Other than Nikolia Kulemin and Luke Schenn, I just didn’t see any players really improving under Wilson. He was prone to publicly chastising players which certainly must have created some animosity in the dressing room.

But things seemed to change this year. You began noticing improvement in many players. Quite a number have had their best season in their young career. Wilson was not calling out players to the media. Perhaps because the veterans he was ripping were all shipped out. Instead he was more often defending his young team. He appears very calm standing behind the bench. The team chemistry has clearly improved. Games are more entertaining.

Yet as a fan, I’m tired of Ron Wilson. He is arrogant and abrasive. Wilson treats every question from the media as stupid. I miss the charm and openness of Paul Maurice. One day he will be the ex-coach or the Leafs and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to miss him.

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