Weâ€™ve onlyÂ just enteredÂ a crucial time of playoff hockey in the past week or so, but for a lot of fans of teams left on the outside, October canâ€™t get here any quicker. And for Ron Wilson, I think the situation is probably similar.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been a failure for all of Wilsonâ€™s tenure thus far. But, as if out of some superhero movie, Ron was recently saved by the one they call â€œOptimus Reimâ€ down the stretch.
When Leafs fans called for Wilsonâ€™s head in the early part of this past season, I sort of held my tongue. It was easy to recognize that things werenâ€™t looking up for the guy, but I really had no idea as to what was the right move.
Honestly, I figured Wilson would finish the season, and as the Leafs plunged to the basement of the league, Burke would probably consider exploring other avenues this summer. That obviously isnâ€™t the case, and due to the late surge from the blue and white to end the campaign, WilsonÂ will receiveÂ another audition on hockeyâ€™s biggest stage. And this time, I believe, he has to be excited for it.
Why? Because Wilson has experienced something in Toronto in the past few months that he may have thought heâ€™d never get the chance to see: his Leafs, winning games.
For the first time since arriving in the Mecca, the head coach may have some legitimate hope for a winning season come autumn. Thatâ€™s a far cry from his lowered expectations two seasons ago, where bothÂ he and BurkeÂ had to essentially tell the hockey world that the Leafs were terrible. And they were right.
The troubling part about all of this, however, is that the Leafs have really only made up four points from Wilsonâ€™s inaugural season until now, from 81 to 85. But a lot of fans, and bloggers (myself included) choose to look at this past season as two separate campaigns: the November Leafs (who were laughable), and the Reimer era Leafs.
If Reimer was a flash in the pan, the Leafs are in deep trouble. And Iâ€™m sure the coach is eager to find out first hand.
Wilson would love to see the fruits of his labor with a real winning season that sees the team playoff bound. After all, heâ€™s been around to develop a lot of the core players that will surely be essential in any success the Leafs come across.
Nik Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Luke Schenn in particular are pure products of Wilsonâ€™s coaching. And though many believed Phil Kessel and Wilson to be at odds earlier on, it seems â€œThe Thrillâ€ has adapted a more complete game under the bench boss.
Wilsonâ€™s tenure has been marred with failure, but thereâ€™s also some accomplishment there as well. Which one is the most impressive to you?
- The development of Nik Kulemin…. Mikhail Grabovski?… Luke Schenn?
- Phil Kessel’s improved play at both ends of the ice
- Squeezing sixty-two points from Clarke MacArthur
- Effectively upsetting Kris Versteeg enough that he was run out of town, landing the Leafs two picks
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