Blaming the Leafs' troubles lately on Ron Wilson is like blaming the weatherman for the rain. He can do and say everything right, but at the end of the day, the weather's going to ultimately do whatever it wants.
I think it's important to realize that most of the pucks ending up behind the Toronto goaltenders isn't due to bad goaltending or bad coaching. It's due to poor decision making by the skaters on the ice. Having been trained in a 'No-Blame Environment', I've learned to look at the process and find the root of the cause in many scenarios. If there's one thing about hockey I know, it's that the Coach is the 'Easy Fix' when it comes to making a change. But why?
I get told that players 'give up' on a coach, or simply 'stop playing for him'. Okay, so this means we fire the coach? Where I come from, if I'm not doing my job, my boss isn't the one getting canned. Accountability seems to be non-existent when you're a member of the NHLPA. Simply put, the Leafs are forgetting the most fundamental basics of hockey. Know when to pinch. Know when to go for the hit. Know when to play the puck, when to play the body. Don't throw the puck up the middle in front of the goalie. For years I heard Harry Neal talk about 'high percentage' and ' low percentage' plays.
Was I the only one listening?
As the Coach, is it Wilson's job to drive the basics of hockey into the heads of these players? Shouldn't that kind of stuff be second nature by this point in their professional careers? These are guys getting paid half a million to millions of dollars a year to play this sport. They're supposed to be the best in the world, yet...they make mistakes that a lot of 14yr old house leaguers have figured out not to do by now.
How can we expect Wilson --or ANY coach, for that matter-- to teach the finer points of a power play, penalty kill or how to play any kind of system whatsoever if the players can't even seem to grasp simple, basic hockey? How many coaches have we gone through since this playoff drought began? At what point do we finally take a breath and say...'Hey, wait a minute...maybe it's NOT the coaching.". At what point are the players supposed to stand up and take responsibility for this?
Wilson may be part of the problem, but no more than any other coach would be. The problem lies within the players and the effort they make night in and night out. It's time for the Leafs to step up and stop playing 30 solid minutes of hockey (five in the first, 15 in the second, ten in the third).
The Leafs need to hold themselves accountable. Once they begin to play up to their own expectations, we can then have a look at whether Wilson's being out-coached, or not...because that's the ONLY time a Coach's ability should come into question.