Written by Brandon Logan
Throughout this disappointing season, a debate amongst Leaf Nation has caught my attention. That debate is whether or not Brian Burke should relieve Ron Wilson of his coaching duties.
Why? That is the question I ask myself when I read these debates. Ron Wilson is employing a system that is crucial to the Leafs development as a team. Every year I read blogs and forums saying that he should be axed, but why?
When you have a young team like the Maple Leafs, you want to employ a system that the team can learn. With constant coaching changes, this is not being done, and it severely hinders the development of the team.
A solid presence is an important structure for any NHL team. Take for example, Detroit. Besides the retirement of Scotty Bowman, the system the Red Wings have employed has been constant and beneficial to the team, whether it is on the ice or in the front office. Detroit hasn’t missed the playoffs since the ’89-’90 season. A strong, stable system is what the Toronto Maple Leafs are missing, but Ron Wilson is bringing a change to that.
As seen from the 2010 Olympic Games, Wilson can still coach an effective team. He led an over-achieving American team to the silver medal, just falling short of Team Canada. Well what does that show? Well with some talent injected into the line-up, Wilson can get the best from his players and that tournament showed it.
Ron Wilson has said countless times is that, “We have a system in place, but we do not have the right players.” He couldn’t have been more accurate.
Since the Dion Phaneuf trade, the Toronto Maple Leafs penalty kill has been ranked in the top half of the league. Has the system changed? No! As Wilson said earlier, we need the right players, and those players have finally arrived. The additions of Freddie Sjostrom and Dion Phaneuf have proved that when you have players willing to buy into the system, you will have instant results.
Finally, with the emergence of a dressing room leader in Dion Phaneuf, you also see the change internally. It has been clear that Wilson and Phaneuf have hit it off, and you can see the impact on the ice. With Phaneuf buying into Wilson’s system, you can tell that the others are as well.
The Leafs played superbly since the Olympic break, and Wilson’s system is finally becoming more and more evident. With the possibility of Nazem Kadri and new arriving free agents over the summer, next year’s results will be seen by all Leafs fans.
Stay positive Leaf Nation, the light at the end of the tunnel is slowly coming. The wait will be well worth it, when we are competing for Lord Stanley.