Ron Wilson’s War

Given the current love in for the Toronto Maple Leafs no one is, at least publicly calling for or speculating about Ron Wilson’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Include in this one reporter who likes to wear argyle, who had made a habit of suggesting and even asking the coach how he was dealing with the losing.

Wilson clearly knows how to coach. The question with him like most of his colleagues is, when will his act wear out. It does with coaches in most leagues, good, bad or otherwise. It would be hard to say that Wilson’s act has already worn out here, however one would have to wonder what Burke would do if Wilson’s Maple Leafs utterly shit the bed coming out of the gate in 2010-2011.

Tonight, Steve Simmons has a very interesting story suggesting that as far as one Tomas Kaberle is concerned, Ron Wilson’s act has worn out.

“The historically quiet and almost non-combative defenceman has told old friends he “can’t stand playing for Wilson” and as much as he has loved playing for the Leafs and living in Toronto throughout his National Hockey League career, even through five straight seasons out of the playoffs, he is prepared to move on because he is unhappy with the manner in which Wilson coaches the Leafs and the lack of respect he shows for the players.”

Couple of thoughts here. First the easy one. Here’s hoping that Kaberle isn’t blaming his play of late on Wilson. The guy is a veteran and a true professional. He has to play above this. No matter how unhappy he is, he isn’t a rookie, he has to be more mature than to pout due to Wilson’s alleged antics. Let me stress again that I am not saying Kaberle is blaming Wilson, I am just saying I hope he isn’t blaming Wilson.

I said to someone only this morning that Ron Wilson may be able to coach, but what is with the way he appears to treat players. Brayden Irwin, newly signed showed up at practice yesterday. Still wet behind the ears, he apparently had to be directed around the inner confines of the Air Canada Centre. One can imagine the nerves and excitement of arriving at an NHL arean on your first day at, dare I say work. If he had any food in him I can imagine Irwin was having a tough time keeping it that way. Now, maybe I am nuts, but one would think that one simple way to calm his nerves would have been to have a person in a position of authority, like say the head coach, welcome him. When I was fortunate enough to work for teams and a new kid arrived our coaches made it a point to do just that to settle the kid down. Not on the good ship Maple Leafs, according to published reports Wilson waited until AFTER practice to introduce himself.

The reports obviously didn’t have more details. Wilson could have been running late, or busy or….I don’t know. I am not a Wilson basher, and I am not the world’s biggest Wilson fan either. I am pretty balanced on the guy. Having said that, when I read that story I was quite taken aback. Who does that type of thing? Is it part of a mind game? Does it show a young player the way things work? Does that mean he isn’t a players coach????? Is it all of the above, some of the above or none of the above?

The only thing that really bothers me about Wilson has nothing to do with coaching. I don’t know why, but for some reason many people in sports seem to refer to one an other with nicknames that end in the long E sound. When Ron Wilson refers to his boss, it’s not Brian, it’s not Burke it’s Burkie. When he talks about Kaberle it’s Kabbie. The list continues. I know it’s locker-room mentality but it just seems totally unprofessional when speaking publicly about someone to refer to that type of “slang”. The sports media, by the way are just as bad. On the fan we have Paul Jones as Jonsey and Nick Kypreos is Kippy. Watters refers to almost every guest in hockey that way and most of them call him Billy or Willie. Again, I am sure I am along on this one, but for some reason it drives me nuts. But, I digress.

Back to Kaberle for a second:

“Here is the strange contradiction of this season for Kaberle: He played his best hockey when the Leafs played their worst. In the first 20 games of this disastrous season, he was almost all-star like. Twenty-two points in 20 games. The Leafs won just three of those games.

In the past 20 games, as the Leafs have begun to look respectable at a time when it doesn’t really matter, Kaberle has played his worst hockey. He is a minus-6 through that period in the schedule and has contributed only five points. He has been held scoreless in 16 of the past 20 games: The Leafs have won 10 of those games.”

The word I believe is enigma. This provides lots for Burke and co. to think about this spring and summer. Burke has been able to keep the lid quiet on most if not all of these types of stories. One has to wonder the vailidity of this type of claim from Kaberle’s camp. Obviously Simmons doesn’t name names, but one has to wonder who is chirping in his ear. How would Steve Simmons know a friend of Kaberle’s? Could it be that this friend is or was somehow associated with the team in the past? A former teammate maybe?

Burke has spoken glowingly of Kaberle whenever asked. This story will garner lots of interest and you have to believe someone will get some sort of (or snort of) response from Wilson. Burke may chose his words more carefully and I am willing to bet that Kaberle will deny them. Interesting days ahead for Leafs fans. with no playoffs to get us excited about, don’t we deserve some excitement?



read Simmons article on Tomas Kaberle’s rumored hatred for Ron Wilson here

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