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Leafs: Dear Ron Wilson

Posted 9:59 AM ET | Comments 29
Dear Ron Wilson,

I along with most Leaf fans today feel your pain. Our team is not performing and it is frustrating as can be for fans, as well (I’m sure) for players and the coaches. You may feel that you are being unfairly blamed, as has been your feeling throughout your time in Leaf’s Nation. What I saw last night was pathetic. The players let you down early with bad decisions coming one after another. There was, however one important difference between last night and every other night.

You were thrown under the bus! The “Fire Wilson” chants were loud and impossible to ignore. All of Leaf’s nation could see that they were getting to you as your post-game interview lacked all the characteristics of a typical Ron Wilson Blamefest. You were cautious with how you dealt with the media, you actually defended your goalie (FOR ONCE!), and you had a far more mellow tone than I have ever seen from you after a loss. Clearly last night we saw a Ron Wilson who had been emotionally drained and suffered from being called out by all of Leaf’s Nation. All I can say is, you deserved it all! I can think of nothing more fitting than a person being put in the same unfair position that he has put others in time and time again, and that is what happened last night. Two bad plays from the defence lead to this loss, and that should have been on their shoulders, instead it was on yours. Justice was served!

Going forward, there is no way you recover from this, aside from a miraculous 10-game winning streak from the Blue and White. Judging by the player interviews yesterday (Schenn - it seems he was quite content with the fact that the Leafs lost, and I’m sure that the idea of the coach, who has hindered his development, being gone is responsible for this) I don’t see this occurring. You are as good as gone. So I’d like to take this opportunity to explain to you how this team should have been coached. Let’s start with what I would have said at the beginning of the year with this team, starting with the goaltenders:


“Gus, Reims. You are both new to the game and have never been relied on as a starter for an extended period of time. You WILL make mistakes and I am more than okay with that. Forget the fans, forget the media. I am the ONLY PERSON you need to impress here on a nightly basis. I want to see you adopting the techniques you are taught. I’m sure they will be difficult to get used to at first, but you will eventually get comfortable with them. Allaire is a good coach and will get you playing well.

Since I expect mistakes, and want to see improvement, I WILL NOT be switching you in and out every game. Instead I will make this a learning curve for both of you. You will both alternate on a 5-game cycle. Regardless of the outcomes of each of your 5 games, you will play through them. This will give you the chance to get into a rhythm and allow me to see how quickly you can bounce back from a bad loss should it occur. Half-way through the season this may change if one of you emerges as a true #1, but until that point, you will continue to alternate. Should you both perform admirably, I will continue the cycle, as there is nothing I would like more than to have 2 goalies I can rely on all year and in the playoffs. Stay strong, remember to try to improve on a nightly basis, and play the game to the best of your abilities! That is all I can ask of you.”


“Boys, I’m sorry. I am truly, truly sorry for what I put you through last year. My system is terrible for the defence, and I should have realised it sooner. We are going to change things up dramatically. I do like the way we were able to get the puck out when we actually succeeded in doing so, so I will try and keep that aspect alive. To do this, I plan on each pairing consisting of a defence-first defenseman and an offence-first defenseman. Phaneuf-Gunnarson, Gardiner-Schenn, Liles-Komi. Franson will be working on both aspects of his game and will sub in when people are struggling to find some good combinations. The combos that work are what I will go with.

Gunnarson, Schenn, and Komi, your job is defense first! I want to see minimal handling of the puck. You are responsible for grinding guys out in the corners, and you BETTER own the front of our net! Phaneuf, I am looking at you too. You have size, use it! I want players scared to plant themselves in front of Reims and Gus. That is YOUR area, keep it that way. Should any of you (aside from Phaneuf) happen to gain control of the puck, I want you to pass it off to your defensive partner or winger ASAP, and if they are not available, just get the puck to centre! Cover for your offensive partners, and play solid DEFENSIVE hockey!

Liles, Gardiner, Phaneuf, and Franson. You are the puck carriers. I want you to make those first passes out of our zone. Our forwards are speedy as hell, make sure you catch them at full flight. Speed on the attack is going to get us goals. If there is no pass, don’t be afraid to skate with it. Remember, you all have defensively responsible partners who are always ready to cover for you. Keep your heads up, and make the smart plays. Always remember that it is better to circle back and wait for the right opportunity than to rush an opportunity that isn’t there. Puck control is key for you!”


“Believe it or not folks, you are the one thing I can take credit for. You have blossomed these past few years, and despite your recent struggle, I know you have the ability to keep up and even improve your numbers. I need the work ethic to continue for all of you on both ends of the ice, and we will continue to improve. You represent a team that arguably has the largest following of any NHL franchise. Make them proud!”

Take Care Ronnie, you will not be missed.

- Leafs Nation
Filed Under:   Leafs   Wilson   Toronto   Maple   Ron   Burke   Fired  
February 29, 2012 11:02 AM ET | Delete
February 29, 2012 11:23 AM ET | Delete
@B-Leaf - Messages that are too long don't show up. Try breaking the message up into pieces and posting multiple times
February 29, 2012 11:36 AM ET | Delete
I agree with most of this. The defence is where i would create a complete defensive minded approach
February 29, 2012 11:40 AM ET | Delete
@Sundin113 - The problem with a complete defensive system is that the offense needs to completely buy into this too. The team would only score 3 goals maximum a night, and on most nights the total would be 2 if not 1 goal for. In order to win games we would need to practically shut out every team.
February 29, 2012 11:42 AM ET | Delete
While this has been shown to work for many teams (NAS, PHO, etc...) you need the forwards to support it. We don't have that group of forwards who play a sound defensive game (aside from Kuli). We have some that are good support on defence (i.e. Grabo, Lupul, Bozak), but not enough to support a full out defense first system imo.
February 29, 2012 12:43 PM ET | Delete
this is the biggest piece of garbage i have read in a long time. you are the type of leafs fan i cant stand. absolutely no original ideas or opinions and very little knowledge about the game of hockey. a month ago you were probably planning a parade .....
February 29, 2012 1:08 PM ET | Delete
@dilloncrabbe If you would care to explain why this is the case, by all means. This entire season I have been saying we would get nowhere under Ron Wilson's system, that is wasn't maintainable in the long run. If you care to provide some substance to your argument, that would be appreciated.. Otherwise you are nothing more than an annoyance:)
February 29, 2012 3:37 PM ET | Delete
Leafs nation would absolutely shit themselves if you ran the 5 games on, 5 games off goalie system. As soon as one goalie got cold (or hurt) that whole philosophy would go out the window. Either that or you'd be willingly throwing wins out the window, your choice. You would not have lasted a week as coach of the Leafs, and would probably be hung in the streets.
February 29, 2012 4:04 PM ET | Delete
You are right, a rebuilding team should care solely about wins rather than trying to ensure that their goalies become starters in the league... It is extremely tough for a goalie to play consistently well if he thinks the slightest mistake will cause him to ride the pine... 5 games on-off would give them security for the short term and allow them to settle in...
February 29, 2012 4:04 PM ET | Delete
Then you can glean which one seems to be more stable and start making his starts more consistent.
March 1, 2012 2:18 AM ET | Delete
If you consider where the leafs are to be still rebuilding, then why be upset at Wilson if you're deeming the players unfit to make a serious run. If you think they should be contending in the playoffs, then wouldn't the players be capable of winning, in which case, why would you want anything less than a win?
March 1, 2012 2:18 AM ET | Delete
Work out your goalies in practice or in the minors, ride the hot one where it counts. Also, the Leafs are much better this year than last. You've gone on a rough skid, but fire Wilson seems like overkill.
March 1, 2012 7:40 AM ET | Delete
March 1, 2012 7:43 AM ET | Delete
Overkill?? I don't think so... This team has no system of any kind at all!! We definately need a new coach!! And the sooner the better... How many years should we give him, all Wilson will ever give Leafland is playoffless hockey and we'vev all had enough of that.
March 1, 2012 9:19 AM ET | Delete
@BuffaJoe The reason I want Wilson gone is because his coaching has been detrimental to our young players. We have a young team and therefore need a coach that can deal with young players. Wilson is not that coach. In the long run having him here hurts our development to content int he future. He is not the coach of our future, and as such he should not be behind the bench period. The only benefit is with him we might get a lottery pick
March 1, 2012 9:40 AM ET | Delete
I agree with getting rid of Wilson. I don't often think the coach is completely to blame for a how poorly a team plays but i do believe that Wilswon has more to do with the team losing than winning. The teams wins usually come at the hands of strong individual play by Kessel, Lupul, and Grabovski.... when those guys dont show up it is usually a horrible loss for the leafs.
March 1, 2012 9:44 AM ET | Delete
March 1, 2012 9:48 AM ET | Delete
the fact that this happens is proof that the team plays system-less hockey, or at least the system is so weak it falls apart at the first signs of adversity. The fact that he has been throwing his guys under the bus since he's been here is more than enough reason to get rid of him. I don't know too many young guys who respond positively to that kind of treatment, you're either too afraid to make mistakes or not motivated to try.
March 1, 2012 10:25 AM ET | Delete
I also think that Schenn has ran to the end of his leash now, he has had his chance to prove his abilities and it's cost the team too many times, he might benefit from spending a few weeks with the marlies and play some post season hockey for once.
March 1, 2012 11:11 AM ET | Delete
@steven326 I agree with a bunhc of your points. As for Schenn to the Marlies that can't and won't happen. he would have to pass through waivers and would 100% be claimed by another team. you could get around this by sending him down in the offseason, but then he would be down there for the year as if you were to call him up, he would again be claimed on waivers.. Schenn will return to form under a coach that preached some sort of defence
March 1, 2012 11:23 AM ET | Delete
Point taken, I feel like the general Leaf populous had a different opinion of Wilson before the skid and when they seemed like a lock for the playoffs. I don't mean to lump you in with them if you've felt differently, and you have a right to your opinion. Perhaps I've just been proved wrong by my own GM recently, whom I've been very adamant towards firing until... well, the trade deadline.
March 1, 2012 11:23 AM ET | Delete
I think that had the Leafs found a way to win a few games in this recent stretch, the tune would ring a bit differently. The Sabres losing stretch was similar in length to the leafs current one, and man did it feel like an eternity.
March 1, 2012 2:01 PM ET | Delete
@BuffaJoe http : // leafs4life . net/2011/11/01/the-wilson-saga/ this is a blog of mine from NOV when we were in 4th in the conference (wouldn't let me post without spaces, sorry)... Even at that point I said it was inevitable that we will drop. His system has never been maintainable and I wanted him gone before the year started because of that... I feel for BUF, being one of the teams I wanted to see win something
March 1, 2012 2:03 PM ET | Delete
I always support the Sabres when the Leafs are out of the running. I actually think that this slide in the standings will be really good for you if you can pick up a top 10 pick... If you can pick up that missing guy int he draft, I think you are set for a while now with the likes of Ennis, Hodgson, Enroth, Myers, Vanek, etc... Its a good group that will eventually take you guys far... Just gotta get rid of Leino.. That guys gonna haunt you for a bit
March 1, 2012 6:48 PM ET | Delete
Not a bad blog but I can't agree with the 5 game cycle, these goalies need confidence and cant do that by themselves, Burke needs a different goalie and keep Reims for him to be mentored, the defense I agree with the pairings would be solid but Franson should be before Komi. As for Wilson good coach, did help the team but it is his time, the team will always look at him as the coach during troubling times, time for a fresh face to bring this team over the hump. Bring on Eakins and Gilmour to coach marlies.
March 2, 2012 5:45 AM ET | Delete
"I want to see you adopting the techniques you are taught. I’m sure they will be difficult to get used to at first, but you will eventually get comfortable with them. "No coach should ever ever ever make his players do something they are uncomfortable with, lack of comfort means lack of confidence, which completely goes against developing a rookie.
March 2, 2012 9:11 PM ET | Delete
heh, well I guess management agrees.
March 2, 2012 10:53 PM ET | Delete
@doucet_derrick the 5 game cycles are only present if we keep both goalies.. depends on the plan for the future
March 2, 2012 10:55 PM ET | Delete
@Jay Uller - You culd not be more wrong... Are you telling me that if a rookie comes into the NHL and is a completely 1 dimensional scoring forward, you should not try and work on his defensive game if he is uncomfortable with the idea of backchecking? Rookies need to be taught, and that means potentially doing things they are not used to.. It is called develoment
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