Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Ron Wilson



Beverly Hills Cop with Eddy Murphy featured a song by Glenn Frey, “The Heat is On” in 1984, and it must be ringing in Leafs head coach Ron Wilson’s head over and over.All of Leafs Nation are looking to Wilson to lead this young team to a season that can be considered a success which would be least challenging for a playoff berth and getting out of the basement of the NHL in my estimation.Is Wilson’s system more suited for hockey matching the era of the movie than the modern NHL?Granted Wilson has had success in the past with “his” system, but as the game changes has his coaching style changed with it?Wilson’s penalty killing units were one of the best in the western conference while with the San Jose Sharks, but the Leafs have been in the bottom five, yet showed improvement near the end of last season.Now that general manager Brian Burke has given him a solid defense core and sturdy goalies between the pipes who will have a full training camp and preseason together will we see continued improvement?Last season after sniper Phil Kessel was added to the line up he became the featured trigger man on the power play, but teams caught onto that pretty quick.Now with some new faces with goal scoring prowess including Kris Versteeg and Nazem Kadri if he cracks the lineup, along with Kessel and some players that want to prove their worth, in Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski, how will Wilson utilize them?Has Wilson revamped his special teams to suit the players he has or will he try and shove a square peg in a round hole again?He mentioned in the first preseason game that he wanted to see more puck movement on the power play between his defensemen and the announcers were saying that they haven’t worked on special teams in camp yetThe two defensemen were Tomas Kaberle and newly appointed Captain Dion Phaneuf, who in my mind should be able to work the puck back and forth on the blue line without much practice, they’ve only been doing it since they were five!Granted the other three players on the ice have to draw some attention from the penalty killers.Wilson’s penalty killing strategy seemed to be again a non aggressive box keeping the play to the outside. For this to be effective when the puck does end up around the crease the players that collapse have to knock down the bodies in front where jerseys for cheap
they outnumber the forwards.They have the big bodies to make this work but the players have to buy in and be ready to be physical night in and night out.Mike Brown stood out in the first preseason game against Ottawa and should be a real spark plug for the Leafs every time he steps on the ice, hopefully Wilson can work his skill set in effectively.I would prefer to see an aggressive penalty kill forcing the play, as the passive style Wilson implements finds players flat footed and out of position.I believe this team will improve, that’s a given, and though that’s not saying much because of how poor they were last year albeit while going through a ton of changes.There is as therealways are high expectations amongst Leafs Nation that I pray are not met by disappointment this year and I will hold Mr. Wilson personally accountable because on paper once finalized this team should compete.All in all the heat is squarely on Wilson, because if this team doesn’t begin to show improvement Burke will have to extinguish Wilson’s contract or all eyes pitchforks and torches will turn on Burke!

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