Very Candid Ron Wilson on The Gameplan

Amazing interview with new Leaf coach Ron Wilson on the new mid-day show on the Fan just now.

Wilson was asked why come to Toronto given all that is going on here, and not having a full time GM. RW: “cliff is full time gm/president- it is the Toronto Maple Leafs! It would be like managing the NY Yankees in baseball….I can’t think of a better situation for me. The team is going through a bottoming out process and I have a record of working through those before. I had more questions of management then they did of me. Most of what i heard was media misrepresentation and not close to the reality of the situation. Cliff is right guy until the next guy is hired… I want to get the Leafs back to where they were when Pat Quinn had took them and then higher.”

What a shocker that the media’s bad mouthing of the Leafs is nothing more then media speculation. This is the reason that we as fans have a right to be pissed when the Berger’s or Cox’s of the world spew crap that they have no clue about….

the guys then asked Wilson about having coached young teams before.
RW:” I have coached through re-builds before- i have been in this situation before.. I know the things you have to do to turn things around. I want to put a defensive system in place. If Mats Sundin doesn’t come back we aren’t going to score 4-5 goals a game. In the past this team had to score that many goals to win. Well you don’t have to score 4-5 goals if you don’t have your own net filled with 405 goals a night. My goal from the start of training camp is to put a defensive system in place that around Christmas time people will start to notice a big difference.”

Indeed. A good coach looks at their talent and then coaches with what he has. There is no reason to play a run and gun style with this team. It may not be the most exciting team to watch, but at least they will be competitive.

Wilson was then asked what his thoughts on Jason Blake were
RW:”Health knocked him for a loop last year. Big contracts make players feel like they have to play up to that number. So if Jason Blake tripled his salary when he came to the Leafs he felt like he had to try 3x as hard. It just isn’t possible. I am going to have to talk to Jeff Finger about this too. i don’t expect to him play 10x better because he got 10x the money”

Doug MacLean then said that the one things the Leafs don’t have is a franchise player, and aksed for Wilson’s comments:
“i agree 100%, we don’t. We can’t turn this around without one. I am paid to coach – i am paid for short term outlook while the gm is paid for long term outlook…I want to win every game, but we are going to have lots of young players who have never had a chance to play before- we know the cupboard is bare, haven’t produced much… I am not going to say we are going to make the playoffs I have no idea where we are going to finish. The team lost most of their games in the 3rd period. When you lose as many games as they did in the 3rd period, its a sign of only 1 thing, poor leadership. They needed a change in leadership and that is why the changes that were made this summer needed to be made.”

WOW- and there it is. People have been wondering why get rid of Wellwood, why get rid of Tucker, why get rid of McCabe and Raycroft? There is the number one reason. Cliff clearly believes that the leadership in the room was clearly an issue. So while getting rid of salary was an added upside, the main issue was the quality of the people.

It was interesting listening to the interaction between Wilson and MacLean, as unlike other hosts, MacLean hasn’t been out of the business very long so he clearly knows his shit. Maclean said that he thinks the number one priority for the Buds will be to clear as much cap space as possible because the franchise player doesn’t have to come through the draft. He explained that the onus is on Wilson and Fletcher to clean the image of the Maple Leafs so that when the Rick Nash’s of the world are UFA they want to come to Toronto. The insinuation is that right now they don’t. I guess a few years of JFJ and Paul Maurice can do that.

For those who can, I recommend tuning in to the Fan between 2-4 pm and listening to the Gameplan. Maclean and Armstrong are a real breath of fresh air here in Toronto. They had a very pointed interview with J.P Ricciardi that I will try to review later.

Listening to Wilson got me excited again for training camp to start…

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