A 4-0 start to the season for the Leafs is pretty impressive. Factor in that the previous edition of the blue and white was a 29th place team with the worst special teams in the NHL, and a total lack of team concept. To say the 2010/11 Leafs – at least so far – are a unit firing on all cylinders would be an understatement; finally there are players who have bought into a system, accepted there role, and are delivering. Full marks to the team that needed to come out of the gates to show there was a new gang in town.
Let’s switch focus to Head Coach Ron Wilson now – the same coach who guided his previous squad to the aforementioned 2009/10 achievement. There were a lot of naysayer’s questioning Ron Wilson’s ability to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs. If the players needed a strong start, Wilson did equally.
Credit where credit’s due. You wouldn’t ask the world’s greatest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby on a plough horse, nor should you expect a hockey coach to achieve positive results with a bunch of guys un-willing to play fast, aggressive, detail oriented hockey built on a solid defensive and goaltending foundation; in other words, previous editions of the blue and white didn’t have the horses, and Brian Burke should be credited.
Wilson has done an admirable job integrating new talent and veteran role players into a system that is accountable, and if you work hard, know your role and achieve results, you are rewarded. See Mike Zigomanis and Tim Brent as exhibit A. Score goals? Do it. Play aggressive defense and shutdown the opposition, that’s your job. Fight? If the time is right, go for it.
With the 3rd best penalty kill, and 18th place power play (nothing to boast about, but still a dramatic improvement) – per NHL.com – the Leafs are showing a commitment playing as a unit, and if this keeps up, games when it matters when the weather starts to get warm.
Both the players and coaching staff should be commended on a job well done.
About the Author
Written by Mike De Petrillo
Leafs fan; former OHL LW; Live in Toronto