Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ron Wilson: Yay or Nay

I find myself flip-flopping on the whole Ron Wilson debate, especially after listening to Washington GM George McPhee talk about how and why Glen Hanlon was fired. If you didn't know, Hanlon himself felt that the atmosphere in the room wasn't right and there was nothing further he could try to change it; he felt only some sort of shake up could do it and he offered his head to McPhee. McPhee told him to try one more game to see if he could get the team back; they lost and he was fired.

Now, I don't see Ron Wilson as the type to stick his neck out like that, but it does bear the question -- has he lost this team or are they merely going through an offensive slump?

I don't think anyone has the answer to that question.

Look, a team doesn't have to be perfect to win the Stanley Cup. However, few teams play inconsistent for the whole season before turning it on in the playoffs. Take the 2004 Lightning, for example. After a killer October, the Bolts had a decent November before an awful December that dropped the team to around .500 and created trade rumors around everyone on the team, as well as bringing up the idea of firing coach John Tortorella. Then in January, the team turned it on and kept it going for the rest of the season.

Now, let's look at these Sharks. If you look at their record, you'd think, "Hey, that's not bad." And if you look at Evgeni Nabokov's play, it's been the one consistent standout all season. And the defense? Well, we all thought it'd be a huge problem, but the team is paying attention to details for the most part, and players like Douglas Murray and Christian Ehrhoff are actually stepping up while Sandis Ozolinsh has been a nice surprise.

Ok, so now what? Ron Wilson points out that if he didn't have the ear of the team, they'd be terrible defensively, and he's probably got a point there. But is it possible for the offense to just be filled with bad luck from top to bottom, minus Joe Thornton?

For those people that say that Patrick Marleau's done and should be jettisoned in whatever manner possible, those folks haven't been watching the past few weeks. For whatever reason, Marleau's shown a marked difference from mid-November on; he's using his speed a lot more -- and a lot smarter -- and he's generating his share of scoring chances. Now, for whatever reason, they're just not going in. The same can't be said for Jonathan Cheechoo, who can't seem to get a shot off to save his life, though logically, if you think about coming off a double-sports hernia surgey (essentially ripping apart both your groins), it makes sense that his timing, speed, and strength are all off.

So, you have the best defensive team in the league and a bunch of underachieving superstars who are lucky to put up two or three goals per night. Are things really that bad? There's a fine line between winning and losing, and if you can trust your defense and goaltending, most of the time, you'll wind up on the better side of that. And if the offense wakes up, then you should be dominant in the league.

Would firing Ron Wilson change things up? I don't know. I do know that Marleau and Cheechoo are going through the proverbial "squeezing the stick too hard" thing while Devin Setoguchi's initial hot streak has cooled off (which is really to be expected), and I'm not sure if a shake up behind the bench is the answer to firing up the offense. Because really, the offense is the only inconsistent thing the team's dealing with; the numbers show that from the blueline in, the team's doing ok (sans last night against Buffalo).

But on the other hand, look at what happened in Atlanta -- the same group of guys started to catch fire right after Bob Hartley was fired. And it doesn't really mean that the right guy or wrong guy went in behind the bench for Atlanta, it just means from all accounts that Don Waddell went in with the attitude of "work hard, have fun" instead of Hartley's "work hard or else" tactics.

Maybe changes of scenery would help this team out. Maybe not. I think that's the problem; the issues are easy to point out on the surface (Marleau, Cheechoo), but what lies beneath that? I don't think anyone can pinpoint that exactly.


Megalodon said...

Anyone have any thoughts about Wilson's constant line-changes? I know he's desperate to get offense, but there is something to be said for leaving guys together long enough so they can know where their linemates are going to be during a play.

I'm not a big chemistry guy, but it's GOT to be confusing to be thrown out there with different people every shift. You know there have been times when the center has tried to make a play that would have worked with a net-crasher, but not with a sniper.

Hasn't Wilson ever played any EA sports hockey? You have to put the right combination of dudes out there!

Fire him, and hire the greatest minor-league coach around. No more recycling losers in the NHL.

Mike Chen said...

If Ted Nolan were available, I'd have ditched Wilson for him a while ago -- that guy can convince anyone to skate through a wall of poop for him. But yeah, I'm not fond of the NHL's coach recycling program UNLESS the Sharks can somehow convince Scotty Bowman to come out of retirement.

I do like keeping Marleau/Pavelski together. They're definitely generating their share of chances.

Cheechew said...

I don't blame Wilson but something has not been "right" all season long. I would not be surprised to see Wilson gone by January if this inconsistency continues.

spade-in-victorhell said...

can wilson...hes had a good team for this long...still can shit with it....hes a good coach...but hes the marty schotihemeyer (i know thats spelled wrong...but im too lazy to look it up) of the nhl...your right...get someone else..hopefully it will be the spark u need...

as a dux fan i hope u keep him

Earl Sleek said...

I will say that in early Duck history, probably the biggest mistake that Anaheim made was firing Ron Wilson (remember "philosophical differences"?).

Years later, though, I guess it might have paid off. None of that's particularly applicable here, but I thought I'd say it anyway.