Monday, February 27, 2012

Who is to blame?

Last season the Maple Leafs were sunk after early in the season when the went on a losing stretch where they only won 4 out of 22 game. This season they appear to be in a similar stretch right now having lost 8 out 9 games with no end in sight. You cannot disappear for a quarter of the schedule and remaining in playoff contention.

So who is to blame? Ron Wilson who is always more than willing to throw his players under the bus as clearly dumped on his goalies. By doing so it is unlikely they will come around real soon. But Wilson is only finding cover for his own shortcomings:
  • His team seems poorly prepared at the start of games.
  • The Leafs' defensive coverage is weak.
  • The team is unable to adapt to defensive coverage thrown up by opposing coaches.
  • The players appear to have given up.
  • The goalies lack confidence and consitency.

This all points to the coaches and no one else. These are the same problems the Leafs have had since Wilson arrived 4 years ago. Sure every season their are stretches where the team plays well but you have to evaluate their performance over the course of 82 games not 20 or 30.

Some people believe this lineup is weak and that earlier in the season their were playing over the heads. I disagree. This is a strong enough lineup to at least make the playoffs but the coaches can't seem to get them there.

Now Brian Burke shares some of the blame for where the team is. Not just because he won't fire Wilson. It was solely his decision to go into the season with inexperienced goalies. Burke insisted he was happy with his goaltending. When James Reimer left the lineup with a concussion Burke chose not to pick up another goalie as insurance. He now finishes the season with his goaltending in struggling to put in just one strong period.

To his credit Burke made some excellent trades to pick up strong performers such as Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardner. He picked up Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi for nothing. He has avoided long-term contracts that can come back to bite you. He was quick to unload unfavourable contracts that he inherited including Jason Blake and Jeff Finger. But he has only replaced them with other bad contracts in Mike Komisarek, Tim Connolly and Colby Armstrong, players who have provided very little since signing with Toronto.

Firing his coach this week could possibly turn this thing around pretty quickly or it could have no impact at all. But landing an impact player might just cost him to much and doing nothing isn't an option unless you are ready waive the white flag. This team need some playoff exposure, even if it's on 4 to 6 games.

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