Entries with the tag: toronto maple leafs
Don’t look now, but those Toronto Maple Leafs—the team left for dead about a month ago—are within two points of a playoff spot (of course, they’re tied with five teams, but that’s parity). All of this happened despite having a horrific goals-against and an ungodly 70% penalty kill rate.
Part of this coincides with the arrival of Phil Kessel, but part of this seems to follow a pattern Ron Wilson had when he first arrived in San Jose.
In his first year with the Sharks (2002-03), San Jose was on the tail-end of an implosion that started with Stanley Cup aspirations and ended with the trade of Owen Nolan and the free-agent departure of Teemu Selanne. The next season didn’t start out much better with a horrific October (one win and an inability to keep the puck out of the net).
The boss had this Steve Simmons post about Ron Wilson and his first season in Toronto:
Wilson is having a remarkable first season coaching the Leafs. This awful roster he has been handed is playing highly entertaining hockey. The kids are getting better, growing up faster, learning and developing. A Leafs team with seven minor-leaguers in its lineup, and at least 10 players who could have cleared waivers without being claimed this season, has 10 wins in its past 15 games, 21 points during that period.
If Wilson wasn’t so caustic, occasionally abrasive and sarcastic—three of my favourite qualities—this city would warm up to him the way it hasn’t warmed up to a Leafs coach since Pat Burns.
Caustic, abrasive, and sarcastic—hey, we saw plenty of that in San Jose, and you can throw in “Really damn stubborn” as part of the Wilson equation. Like Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, you just didn’t know which Wilson you were getting depending on your mood. He could be witty and thoughtful or he could be biting and sarcastic, sometimes outright venomous.