We’re going to file this under misleading and confusing: Team USA coach Ron Wilson said prior to Monday’s semifinal match against Team Russia that he “couldn’t tell you any players on the Russian team.”
It was something of a confusing statement and was the subject of ridicule before the game and even more so after the U.S. lost 2-1 to Russia.
He continued, “That’s probably a good thing, that I don’t know any of their players.”
A man holding the TSN microphone asks Wilson why that would be a good thing. I assume he asked for one of two reasons:
1. Anyone with a pulse would follow up with that question.
2. There’s an obvious advantage to knowing who you’re going on the ice against. We generally think scouting and preparing for games is an important tool in the coaching toolbox.
In response to the TSN question, Wilson became defensive, saying, “Because I don’t know them! Do you know any of the Russian players? Do you? No. … I’m in the same boat. I’ve never seen them play before.”
The TSN mic moved back when Wilson asked, presumably to list off some of the very well-known players on the undefeated Russian team. But Wilson stops him. Then TSN asks if Wilson plans to do some research. The answer there is also classic Wilson.
“No, I’m not. I’m just gonna… we’re gonna… We play with our team and that’s what I’m going to trust.”
Hoo boy Ron Wilson might get a lot of crap for this if Team USA doesn't win today pic.twitter.com/YdOuJw6gr0
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 4, 2016
Here’s the weird thing about this situation, which is gaining some steam since Wilson seems to be making a commercial for a long line of Hubris brand products: He did do research. He did see Russia play.
TSN aired video, prior to the above statement, of Wilson sitting at the Russia-Denmark quarterfinal game. That’s when he offered Canadian coach Dave Lowry advice about being wary of the Finnish power play. (Which was the impetus for him to say that Canada got what they deserved in their quarterfinal loss.)
So, it wasn’t that he wasn’t prepared. He was just outright trolling Russia or he hates the press and wanted to goad the interviewer or… it’s not clear what he was doing, but he had to know that those comments would come back to him if the U.S. lost.
Or, I guess, maybe he was being truthful and scouting teams for him doesn’t involve learning anything about players and instead just kinda watching the game like a casual fan, hoping for a fight, eating a corn dog and then going home to vote for John Scott in the All-Star fan voting five or six times.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.