Maple Leafs Playing Too Well? Nonsense

Dave McCarthyCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2008

Heard On Episode 4.7 of A Foot In The Crease

Sometimes it is really difficult to figure out Maple Leafs' fans. For years, the play of the blue and white was examined microscopically by fans and media pundits alike: doom and gloom after a loss; pure euphoria after a win.

After suffering through three difficult losing years following the lockout that wiped out the 2004-2005 season, one would think that Maple Leafs' supporters would be ready for a little winning. But now strangely enough, the Maple Leafs, according to most, are playing too well.

That’s right. After a successful week, picking up five out of a possible six points, the Maple Leafs are said to be playing too well. All this success is screwing up the master plan of continuing to lose, and losing worse than ever to continue to accumulate draft picks. And then almost through rite of passage, magically transform from cellar dweller to Cup contender in a flash.

That’s how a lot of people seem to see it for the Maple Leafs: that they could not possibly get good again unless they continue to stink for the next few years. Nonsense. The fact is, the coaching style being implemented by Ron Wilson is quickly ridding the team of the sense of entitlement that seemed to prevail throughout most of Paul Maurice’s tenure.

He is quickly facilitating development and ensuring that his players overachieve, not something often seen since before the lockout. If they don’t, Wilson assigns them a seat in the press box, not the bench. So far, the strategy has worked in three cases. Matt Stajan, Mike Van Ryn, and Jason Blake have all had to learn the hard way, but have all responded and are playing some of their best hockey in years.

When Pat Quinn took over for the 1998-1999 season, the Maple Leafs were supposed to lose badly that season too. All they did was go to the Eastern Conference Finals. But hey, all that was just rigmarole.