It would seem as if the start of the 2009-2010 season is not a great time to be a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Things are not exactly clicking as well as supporters would have hoped.
As it stands, the Leafs are winless. They have mustered but a single point–one that could have translated into two and a victory had they buckled down defensively on opening night against the Montreal Canadiens.
They have scored 12 goals in their first five games: a far from stellar stat, to say the least. Granted, no pundits expected them to be among the league leaders in team scoring, but they are underachieving nonetheless.
What was expected of them was to play a solid shutdown, defense-based game. 24 goals later and, well, it doesn’t seem to be working.
Unorganized forwards, stupid penalties, poor goaltending; just plain bad hockey.
Vesa Toskala will inevitably be waived–he has no fan support (not to say that he’s done anything to deserve it) and, without question, does not want to play in front of the Toronto crowd. His confidence is shot and I’m sure he is praying that he can someday redeem himself with another team. His days with the Blue and White are numbered.
But one thing that has gone unmentioned thus far is the coaching. It would seem that Ron Wilson has been given carte blanche in Toronto. How much longer can it go on?
After all, Wilson was fired after coaching a much better team in San Jose to a much better record. He had to be let go because the perennial favourite Sharks could not take the leap and win the big series. Change had to come.
Brian Burke has stated that he believes that the team he has put together is a playoff contender. At this point, that looks like the farthest thing from the truth.
The New York Islanders and the Leafs are the only teams in the NHL without a win. Even Long Island, a consensus preseason pick as the worst team in the league, has scraped together three points–in one less game played than the Leafs, at that!
In the 2008-2009 season, Barry Melrose was fired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning after 15 regular season games. The Lightning was a very bad team with low expectations going into the season. No one expected the team to compete and Melrose still had to shoulder the load and lose his job very early on. Still, the lowly Lightning managed to collect three points in their first five games.
The team did not play the system that it was designed to play.
Phil Kessel is not going to be able to win games all by himself when he joins his new team on the ice.
Neither is Jonas Gustavsson when he returns from injury.
It may be time to take a good look at the angry man behind the bench…