Having the Instinct Coached Right Out of You

WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 31: Jake Gardiner #51 and James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs can only look around as Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his goal in NHL action at the MTS Centre on December 31, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Reminded of Kadri... - Michael Langlois at Vintage Leaf Memories

The elder Wilson was quoted as saying, "I was a left winger. I don’t know how I’d react to all this coaching today. (In my day, as a player) I’d go out there and react to the situations as they transpire. I’d do it instinctively. Today, you’ve got somebody telling you, you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that. I think I’d go out there and be too afraid of making a mistake."

The comment is of particular interest to someone like myself, because I am old enough to actually remember watching Johnny Wilson play in the NHL, and I, too, have seen such a massive shift in the way the game is played in this era, compared with the 1950s and ‘60s, particularly.

Given the passage of time, I guess that's not a shock, eh? Oh, sure, hockey is the same sport, but it’s a very, very different game these days. It’s not just that the players are bigger and faster, though that certainly contributes. But players are able to do such high-skill moves at lightning speed that it's, well, quite remarkable. And beyond that, the game is, of course, coached in such fine—sometimes excruciating—detail.

Time and again I've found myself watching Leafs games and saying out aloud "This is a team that's being over-coached". The way they move the puck on the PP is robotic, pedantic, and scripted. The constant turnovers from East-West passes inside their own blue line are too frequent and similar to be random occurrences. Drop pass, after drop pass, after drop pass. Contrary to Johnny Wilson's time, this team, outside of a few players, plays with very little instinct and it shows.

More links after the jump.

Leafs Links

Why Hello Mr. Nabokov

BCP thinks Burke should trade for a goalie. I do not.

Maple Leafs Hope 2012 is Reimer Time

Or just "Reimer playing average on the PK" time or whatever.

It's a Mixed Blessing

LeafsHQ looks into all the huxtable about the ACC crowd.

Leafs Need to Improve Penalty Kill

Duh.

Other Links

The Winter Classic Drinking Game

Good luck making it to the first commercial break with your liver intact.

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