RON WILSON IS NOT GUIDING THE BOAT

Steve Lansky
December 20 2010 09:27PM

To borrow from the sport of rowing, Ron Wilson is a coxswain. That’s all he is. That’s all any NHL coach is. They are in command of the boat. They make tactical decisions. They provide feedback to the crew. They encourage and motivate. Coaches are simply coxswains. Nothing more and nothing less. And Ron Wilson is not doing the job he is being paid to do. To mix several maritime references, Wilson is Captain Edward Smith and his boat is going right over the falls.

A cox does not touch the oars. He/she does not take a single stroke. But, by how they conduct themselves, cox’ are often the difference between winning and losing in very close races. Same goes for NHL coaches. Every NHL game is a “close race,” and when a team comes out like the Leafs did against Atlanta on Monday night, how could the attention be focused anywhere but on the person who motivates them off the start line?

Ron Wilson’s entire demeanour says he’s had enough. He looks like he’s been dragged behind the Budweiser Clydesdales for several city blocks. He’s as ornery as grandpa, when some punk school kids throw a football into his begonias. Except when he should be ornery – like when his team tanks after just three minutes v. the Thrashers. Then Ron Wilson just stands on the bench with a blank “What-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do-now” look. What message is that sending to his players? It’s the “Frankly, I don’t give a s**t” message.

Wilson didn’t motivate his 1998 Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final. Olaf Kolzig did that with his spectacular goaltending. He never motivated the San Jose Sharks to anything. And don’t give me that crap that they were one of the best regular-season teams in the NHL during his tenure there. No one cares. Nobody has a clue who won the Presidents’ Trophy…ever! He is not the right fit for this team right now.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – the players deserve the lion’s share of the responsibility for how this team has grossly underperformed through this season’s first 33 games. Phil Kessel should be ashamed (and don’t haul out the “He needs a centre” garbage). Why can Mikhail Grabovski seemingly pull unending desire out of his butt, but the other 11 guys up front couldn’t figure out how to pull the fire alarm at McDonald’s?

This Maple Leafs team has enough talent to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I said it before the season began, and I say it again. But if that talent isn’t guided and pushed to the max, spring hockey isn’t going to happen in Toronto – again.

The club is not rowing hard. They are not rowing in unison. Some games they are not rowing at all until the third period, when the score is 5-1. They are not putting everything they have into every stroke. They are not rowing for Captain Wilson. Who’s responsibility is that? All questions fall on the cox’ shoulders. The Leafs season is not yet a lost cause, but GM Brian Burke is going to have to make a very tough decision about his good friend if it is to be salvaged.
 

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Steve Lansky's first exposure to the game was at storied Maple Leaf Gardens, running downstairs at the end of every period just to watch the great Dave Keon walk off the ice to the room. A decade later, while he was still in high school, Oilers' head coach Glen Sather asked Lansky, "Hey, how'd you like to be our team statistician?" In 1983, at the age of 22, Lansky became the youngest producer in the history of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, giving him a front-row seat to the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty. Lansky also helped launch Rogers Sportsnet's fledgling hockey coverage when the network made its début in 1998. You can follow him at bigmouthsports.com and at twitter.com/bigmouthsports
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#1 robinrussia
December 20 2010, 10:58PM
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well said...now if Toronto and Calgary could do some introspection...all could be at peace in the hockey universe. Management is responsible for a lot of the woes of both teams..

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#2 positivebrontefan
December 21 2010, 09:02AM
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Good article Steve, I wondered the same when they brought him over from the Sharks after he got fired there. If he can't motivate a talent laden group like that, why would anybody think he could motivate a team that struggles to find their game night in and night out.

One other thing; was this an experiment to see how many times you could say cox without anybody noticing?

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#5 Pension Plan Puppets
December 21 2010, 10:14AM
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robinrussia wrote:

well said...now if Toronto and Calgary could do some introspection...all could be at peace in the hockey universe. Management is responsible for a lot of the woes of both teams..

Hilarious. Management is responsible for all of the Oilers' woes too but you wouldn't know it from reading OilersNation.

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#6 Pension Plan Puppets
December 21 2010, 10:17AM
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positivebrontefan wrote:

Good article Steve, I wondered the same when they brought him over from the Sharks after he got fired there. If he can't motivate a talent laden group like that, why would anybody think he could motivate a team that struggles to find their game night in and night out.

One other thing; was this an experiment to see how many times you could say cox without anybody noticing?

He motivated the Capitals to the Cup final and the Sharks into being one of the best regular season teams in the league.

I guess Scotty Bowman was a terrible motivator in Detroit too before they finally got over the hump right?

No, the players just didn't win the Stanley Cup. There are a myriad of quantifiable reasons why that happened that had nothing to do with ethereal concepts like 'motivation' or 'desire' or are you suggesting that some teams don't want to win the Stanley Cup?

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#7 Rexall Robots
December 21 2010, 11:02AM
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Steve - If Wilson isn't fit to be behind the bench, who should Burke be looking to as a replacement? Do you have a specific individual in mind, or a certain type of coach?

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#8 Rexall Robots
December 21 2010, 11:06AM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

He motivated the Capitals to the Cup final and the Sharks into being one of the best regular season teams in the league.

I guess Scotty Bowman was a terrible motivator in Detroit too before they finally got over the hump right?

No, the players just didn't win the Stanley Cup. There are a myriad of quantifiable reasons why that happened that had nothing to do with ethereal concepts like 'motivation' or 'desire' or are you suggesting that some teams don't want to win the Stanley Cup?

I don't think some teams don't want to win the Stanley Cup, but more that some teams are not capable to pushing themselves to work hard enough to win it. Winning the Stanley Cup requires the ultimate sacrifice by players because they have to push themselves harder than they think they can go. Not every group of individuals reaches this point.

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#9 Stone Hands McOsta
December 21 2010, 01:14PM
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@Pension Plan Puppets

Comparing Ron Wilson to Scotty Bowman, Are you serious? How many cup rings did Bowman have before he went to Detroit? Oh...and Ronny to the Leafs? There is a difference, Bowman was developing Stevey Y into a 2-way beast and teaching a young Russian how to excel in the North American game...What has Wilson done with that steal in Kessel? Kadri? Bozak? Schenn? They are all BUSTS.

Also, Tom Renney called the Oilers a playoff caliber roster? that's just comedy.

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#11 positivebrontefan
December 21 2010, 05:05PM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

Hilarious. Management is responsible for all of the Oilers' woes too but you wouldn't know it from reading OilersNation.

I'm an Oilers fan and a regular poster on the OilersNation. I'm not saying that mangement in Edmonton has royaly screwed everything up in the past 6-7 years, but a large part of it started way before then when we had no money to work with and all the big money teams (Toronto included, who still sucked then)were spending huge dollars. We had to trade away guys like Doug Wieght, Billy Geurin, etc...Then, post cap era, our buddy Pronger had to mess around with some floozy, and that started this latest crash. Up to that point we were at the start of a fairly smart looking rebuild. I know they just squeaked into the playoffs in '06 but so did Philly last year. Had Pronger been around with some of the other names we had we would not have had to rush the kids like Gags and Cogs into the game and they could have matured and developed thier game like they should have.

One other point before I go; Pension Plan Puppets; Why is it that you have to have such an angry response to every posters comment? Take a "happy pill" or two before posting buddy. We are talking about a game here after all. Try not to take it so seriously.

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#12 positivebrontefan
December 21 2010, 05:07PM
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Steve Lansky wrote:

And there's nothing better than an experiment that succeeds!

LOL!!! Nicely done.

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#13 Pension Plan Puppets
December 22 2010, 03:06PM
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Stone Hands McOsta wrote:

Comparing Ron Wilson to Scotty Bowman, Are you serious? How many cup rings did Bowman have before he went to Detroit? Oh...and Ronny to the Leafs? There is a difference, Bowman was developing Stevey Y into a 2-way beast and teaching a young Russian how to excel in the North American game...What has Wilson done with that steal in Kessel? Kadri? Bozak? Schenn? They are all BUSTS.

Also, Tom Renney called the Oilers a playoff caliber roster? that's just comedy.

I know you're a simpleton but the point of the comparison is that suggesting that Wilson wasn't able to 'motivate' SJ or WSH is asinine.

And calling Schenn a bust just proves how little you know of hockey.

Also, who called the Leafs a playoff-calibre roster?

You want real comedy, Tom Renney guaranteed that your joke team would make the playoffs. He should start writing for SNL.

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#14 Pension Plan Puppets
December 22 2010, 03:07PM
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One other point before I go; Pension Plan Puppets; Why is it that you have to have such an angry response to every posters comment? Take a "happy pill" or two before posting buddy. We are talking about a game here after all. Try not to take it so seriously.

Because the OilersNation's posters are morons that are infecting this site with their stupidity.

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#15 Pension Plan Puppets
December 22 2010, 03:12PM
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I'm an Oilers fan and a regular poster on the OilersNation. I'm not saying that mangement in Edmonton has royaly screwed everything up in the past 6-7 years, but a large part of it started way before then when we had no money to work with and all the big money teams (Toronto included, who still sucked then)were spending huge dollars. We had to trade away guys like Doug Wieght, Billy Geurin, etc...Then, post cap era, our buddy Pronger had to mess around with some floozy, and that started this latest crash. Up to that point we were at the start of a fairly smart looking rebuild. I know they just squeaked into the playoffs in '06 but so did Philly last year. Had Pronger been around with some of the other names we had we would not have had to rush the kids like Gags and Cogs into the game and they could have matured and developed thier game like they should have.

The Leafs sucked before the lockout? Read a book pal. Four conference finals in a decade is nothing to sneeze at. Before the lockout the management team did a decent job of sneaking into the playoffs.

No, you were not at the start of a fairly smart looking rebuild at all during the 2005-2006 season. After Lowe completely botched the Pronger situation he spent two seasons trying to win but he was such a failure it garnered a couple of decent picks. He made an offer sheet which we all know is a clear sign that the team is not rebuilding. Then two summers ago with Khabibulin, for example, the Oilers were clearly still trying to win. You can even find quotes from the principals to that effect. They were just so horrible at it.

At least you acknowledge that Cogliano and Gagner were rushed. There was no need to do it beyond terrible management practices.

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#16 positivebrontefan
December 22 2010, 06:33PM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

I'm an Oilers fan and a regular poster on the OilersNation. I'm not saying that mangement in Edmonton has royaly screwed everything up in the past 6-7 years, but a large part of it started way before then when we had no money to work with and all the big money teams (Toronto included, who still sucked then)were spending huge dollars. We had to trade away guys like Doug Wieght, Billy Geurin, etc...Then, post cap era, our buddy Pronger had to mess around with some floozy, and that started this latest crash. Up to that point we were at the start of a fairly smart looking rebuild. I know they just squeaked into the playoffs in '06 but so did Philly last year. Had Pronger been around with some of the other names we had we would not have had to rush the kids like Gags and Cogs into the game and they could have matured and developed thier game like they should have.

The Leafs sucked before the lockout? Read a book pal. Four conference finals in a decade is nothing to sneeze at. Before the lockout the management team did a decent job of sneaking into the playoffs.

No, you were not at the start of a fairly smart looking rebuild at all during the 2005-2006 season. After Lowe completely botched the Pronger situation he spent two seasons trying to win but he was such a failure it garnered a couple of decent picks. He made an offer sheet which we all know is a clear sign that the team is not rebuilding. Then two summers ago with Khabibulin, for example, the Oilers were clearly still trying to win. You can even find quotes from the principals to that effect. They were just so horrible at it.

At least you acknowledge that Cogliano and Gagner were rushed. There was no need to do it beyond terrible management practices.

1.)The not so smart looking rebuild made it to game SEVEN of the Stanley Cup Final which is farther than any of those "nothing to sneeze at Leafs ever did". At the end of the day no one will remember who made it the conference or cup finals. You only remember the winners. Every one else was a loser.

2.)Sneaking is not what I would call a team that was consistently one of the highest paid teams in the NHL before the lockout. There is nothing sneaky about that.

3.)If you didn't berate every person that commented on this blog maybe you would have more than just us Oilersnation followers on here poking you with a stick to get a rise out of you. Turns out it's pretty easy to do, as you have made a nasty retort to every comment that anyone has put on this article.

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