Toronto Maple Leaf Fans Calling For Ron Wilson’s Head…Again!

February 29th, 2012 5 Comments

The Toronto Maple Leafs playoff hopes took another hit last night as they were downed 5-3 at the hands of the Florida Panthers.

With the distractions of the trade deadline finally behind them, the Maple Leafs got off to a horrible start when defenseman Luke Schenn fanned on a clearing attempt which ended up on the stick of Woitek Wolski, who set up teammate Marcel Goc for his sixth goal of the season just 13 seconds into the game.

Florida made it 2-0 at the 02:21 mark of the first period, when Mike Santorelli beat Toronto goaltender James Reimer with a snapshot. For Reimer, Santorelli’s goal joined a long list of goals that he should have had and all but took away any chance of his team (who has struggled offensively of late) getting back into the game.

Both Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul scored power play goals on the night, but their efforts were not enough as Florida goaltender Jose Theodore made a couple of key saves (he made 28 saves on the night) on route to the Panthers 5-3 victory, which kept them three points ahead of the Washington Capitals in the Southeast Division, who also won on Tuesday evening.

The loss leaves the Maple Leafs sitting in tenth spot in the Eastern Conference, a mere one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and four points behind the Washington Capitals, who now sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Frustrated by the teams early mistakes and the teams overall lack of passion on the night, the fans of the Blue and White responded in the third period with loud chants of “fire Wilson”, a direct blow to the Maple Leafs head coach.

Since signing with the Maple Leafs, Wilson has led the Buds to three very disappointing seasons, finishing with a 34-35-13 record in 2008-09, followed by a 30-38-14 finish in 2009-10 and a moderately improved 37-34-11 finish in 2010-11

Given Wilson’s past results with the Maple Leafs (or lack thereof) and with his team losing for the ninth time in the past ten games in the heat of a playoff race, it is hard not to point the finger at Wilson. Tuesday night also marked the teams’ fourth straight loss at Home, which is alarming considering the stakes right now.

While Wilson’s team has shown considerable improvement in the scoring department this season, defense continues to be the Maple Leafs Achilles heal, giving up an average of 3.05 goals per game, which ranks the team 28th overall.

Inconsistent goaltending from both Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson have taken a toll on the team this season, as has the teams lack of defensive prowess at both ends of the ice.

Another contributing factor to the teams’ defensive woes has been the lack of physical play from the teams blue liners. To be fair, the Maple Leafs lack physical players throughout the lineup, but when your defensemen cannot back forwards off with a big hit or physical play, it is going to be a long night more times than not in today’s NHL.

While Wilson must assume a measure of blame for the teams’ woes, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke should not escape criticism for not having a veteran goaltender in place and for the teams’ lack of physical prowess.

Burke came out after the deadline and said he believed James Reimer was “the real deal”, giving his goaltender a vote of confidence and letting the fans know that, despite the criticism being directed at him for not having that veteran in place, Burke is happy with his goaltending, leading us to believe Burke must be throwing the blame elsewhere.

Whether Burke blames the forwards, defense, coaching staff, management team or all of the above is unknown, but when you come out and say you believe your starting goalie is the real deal and follow that up by saying you feel your backup has saved your season on a number of occasions this year, clearly your focus is elsewhere, not on the goalies.

Burke has stood by Wilson throughout his tenure as coach, even going so far as to say Wilson  “didn’t get stupid overnight” when the coach’s expertise were being questioned earlier in the season.

With Burke insisting that this team is good enough to make the playoffs this season it would appear that he will have little choice but to fire Wilson should the Maple Leafs fail to make the playoffs this season.

The way things have gone the past ten games, there is every indication that the Maple Leafs will not be able to get out of their current tailspin, which should see the team miss the playoffs for the eighth straight season, four of which have been under the watchful eyes of Burke and Wilson.

If Burke truly believes his team is good enough to make the playoffs then you gotta believe some heads are gonna roll should his team fail advance to the playoffs.

In an effort to make improvements to the overall coaching Burke allowed Wilson to bring in two new assistants this summer, replacing long-time assistants Tim Hunter and Keith Acton.

Former New York Islanders bench boss Scott Gordon and former Northeastern University head coach Greg Cronin have done an admirable job helping with the offense, but are yet to show much improvement on the defensive side of the puck.

This is a team that employs two of the NHL’s top-ten scorers in Kessel and Lupul. If the Maple Leafs could get any kind of goaltending and play a little defense one would have to think they’d be money to make the playoffs. Sadly, goaltending has been an issue all season and team defense has been non-existent on more nights than not.

It would seem to me that a change in philosophy is needed on the ice more than anything. Sure, we all love watching offensive hockey, but when you cannot keep the puck out of your own net the offense, as entertaining as it is to watch, is all for not.

At the end of the day Hockey is a team game. That team element extends to the coaching staff and management team, so to say one area is more to blame for the Maple Leafs woes than another may be unfair, yet Wilson continues to get the brunt of the blame from the fans and media.

As the saying goes, it is a lot easier to fire the coach than to fire all the players. With that in mind, whether it is before seasons end, or over the summer, it would appear that the Toronto Maple Leafs may be in need of a new voice. That means, fair or unfairly, Burke will likely have to steal a page out of Donald Trumps book this summer and say “sorry Ron, its been a good ride, but Ronnie, YOUR FIRED!!!”…

Until next time,

Peace!

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Hudson says:

    For the first time, and seriously the first time, I want him gone.

    At the same time, I now want this team to fail long and hard and rise in the draft. So he’s welcome to stay until spring.

    I sure wish we had pro-line down here in Michigan. I could make a killing betting against the Leafs.

  2. Mark Ritter says:

    I find it hard to believe this team is as bad as they have appeared to be the past ten games. There is zero effort from a number of players, an apparent lack of leadership, and a real penchant for backing down from physical contact. Phaneuf got ripped by the opposing players on the Florida bench last night, completely disrespectful and NOBODY stood up for the captain of the team, nor did Phaneuf take a measure of revenge.

    While not all Wilson’s fault, he has to take on some of the blame here and thus may lose his job.

    The team stinks right now. They are goinjg to have to go 12-5-2 in their next 19 just to get to 91 points, which will be all but impossible at this rate.

    If they fail to hit 91 points they will miss the playoffs IMO, and Wilson is likely gone as a result.

  3. wilson should have been replaced long before now .NOW look at the mess that has to be rectified AS LONG AS WILSON HAS BURKE TO POWDER HIS BEHIND HE WILL REMAIN A LEAF .FEEL SORRY FOR ANY LEAF FANS STILL OUT THERE . GOD BLESS YOU ALL FOR PAYING THOSE BIG BUCKS TO WATCH THE LEAFS GET BUSTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN .

  4. nhl fan says:

    Hi Mark

    I have been saying all year the Leafs need a huge upgrade in goal. Even when they were winning it was despite good goaltending. What you are watching now is 18 players who have no confidence in their goalies.

  5. Mark Ritter says:

    NHLFAN—

    It’s more than just the goalies, but yeah, you have been on their case about goaltending. The thing is, Burke did not have a lot of options last summer and this summer does not look much better. Hopefully Reims or Gus gets better, because I really don’t see Burke making a huge upgrade this summer unless he can trade for a vet, and there is not much in the line of great goalies available via trade either…it’s ugly!

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