Are Wilson's barbs getting to his players?

James Mirtle

To call it a new story would be misleading, so I won’t. But it’s definitely a hot topic of conversation here in Toronto, even with only five games left and even though those may be Tomas Kaberle’s last five with the Leafs.

After Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Thrashers, Ron Wilson was in a bit of a foul mood and tossed a few barbs at Kaberle (and Francois Beauchemin), leading to reports today of dissent in the dressing room. (Not that that’s anything new on this or any of Wilson’s previous stops).

Here are Wilson’s comments from Tuesday:

“We’re in a nothing-nothing game and two veteran defensemen get caught pinching. They’re poor reads and that’s why we got down 2-0,” he said. “We talk about how solid our defence is and how well we’ve been playing and we still got some guys who are minus-16 or whatever they are. They’re supposed to be the guys who get the job done defensively and they haven’t improved their plus-minus over the last month when just about everybody else has.”

And it’s pretty clear who Wilson’s referring to in Kaberle (minus-16) and Beauchemin (minus-15).

I’ll get to Beauchemin a little later, but defensively, Kaberle’s had a really poor year — and Wilson’s has his eye on his plus-minus all year. Here he was back in January, talking to AM640’s Jonas Siegel:

“He’s a minus 10 or 11 (this season),” Wilson said before a game in Nashville. “That’s to me, not acceptable. Points don’t matter if the other team’s scoring all the time when you’re on the ice. He’s got to get the job done in our own end a little bit better and he’ll play more minutes.”