Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mr. Wilson takes charge

Flashing around his Canadian passport, new Toronto head coach Ron Wilson did all but sing The Maple Leaf forever on Tuesday, as he was put on display for the ever hungry Toronto press corps, anxious to divine if he had a master plan to bring back the glory days of the Maple Leaf past.

He regaled the assembled media with tales of his youth as youngster, one who worshipped his Toronto Maple Leafs, how humbled he was to be given the number of his idol Dave Keon upon his arrival for a time as a Maple Leaf player.

Wilson pointed out that he left Canada in 1967 to further his journey in professional hockey, so perhaps it was a sign of deliverance that he has returned to the Promised Land some 42 years later.

1967 of course is the date forever stamped in the memories of the Maple Leaf faithful as the last time that the Stanley Cup could be found in the company of the Maple Leaf hockey team.

The press conference which attracted perhaps more attention that any Prime Ministerial announcement or Papal encyclical, sought guidance from the new head coach, who most likely quickly learned that unlike Washington, Anaheim or San Jose, they tend to take their hockey a little more seriously in the centre of the hockey universe.

Going from a media experience that on a good day might consist of a TV reporter wondering what this hockey thing is about, a couple of radio guys there for the free food and a newspaper reporter frozen out of the big sports, to watching the all things Maple Leaf Toronto crews (cast of thousands that they are) should be an eye opener.

From being the guppy in San Jose Shark Tank, to bait for the Toronto media sharks could be one of those life altering moments for Wilson.

He gave the sharks a few things to chew on during his introductory press conference, describing Darcy Tucker as a little worn down, sending who knows how many off to see if Tucker was going to take that little bit of bait.

Wilson also gave indications that change was certainly required for a Maple Leaf team that has had scant knowledge of the post season for a number of years.

Wilson said that the core of the team needed to change and there may be some backwards momentum before the team moves forward. Perhaps Back, to the future could become the marketing slogan for the Leafs in 2008-09

In the National Post, Wilson recounted how he tried to provide a bit of levity for former Maple Leaf coach Paul Maurice when he was last in San Jose. The story goes that Wilson donned a hoodie, dark glasses and began to stalk Maurice on one of his walks around town, a Grim Reaper like interpretation that was designed to try and take some of the pressure off the soon to be fired Leafs coach.

Rumours persist in Toronto that his arrival is part of a one-two punch that will eventually bring Brian Burke into Toronto as God of all hockey operations. Burke and Wilson have a long relationship in hockey, yet curiously neither has worked with the other in their long NHL careers.

Should that plan not come to fruition, you have to wonder how many of those four years on his contract that Wilson will see, before another Grim Reaper appears on the Toronto horizon…

Globe and Mail-- So long, Darcy, hello change
Globe and Mail-- Wilson doesn't expect instant results
The Canadian Press-- Now what? Fletcher says Leafs have a plan as trade talks might heat up
National Post-- Coaching Leafs could be Wilson's biggest challenge
CBC-- Ron Wilson excited to work with Leafs' Fletcher
CTV-- Leafs introduce Ron Wilson as next head coach
Toronto Star-- It’s official — Wilson named Leafs coach
Toronto Star-- Wilson's new post one tough cell job
Toronto Sun-- Seeking the promised land
Toronto Sun-- Some Leafs intrigue Wilson
Toronto Sun-- Wilson hits the right note
Toronto Sun-- Quinn feels his former assistant can handle T.O. heat
Toronto Sun-- 27 things you should know about the Leafs' 27th coach
Toronto Sun-- Wilson done, but Fletcher's work is just beginning

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