Embracing Mediocrity

It matters not, this contract extension Ron Wilson is gloating over. Or at least, it changes nothing.

He makes the playoffs, he’ll stay as Leaf coach. He misses, he won’t. This extension is mostly about feathering his nest, at least in terms of certainty. He’ll get his money, which is apparently what he wanted under his tree and Brian Burke was happy to provide.

What does matter, in a larger sense, is that this is an undeniable instance of Burke’s hockey club openly embracing mediocrity.

Miss the playoffs three straight years, then get to 14th overall in a 30-team league with a weak defensive record (25th out of 30) and the worst penalty killing (30th out of 30) in hockey and the coach responsible for it all gets a handsome, multi-million reward.

“Winning if necessary but not necessarily winning.” It was a cheeky, mock phrase applied to the Leafs that originated in the Steve Stavro ownership days, but rings just as true today.

This extension proves it.

Wilson and Burke have talked ad nauseum about getting rid of “blue-and-white disease” in the dressing room. But there is no greater expression of blue-and-white disease, basically defined as accepting what others would see as average result as excellence, than that which Burke has delivered in extending Wilson at this time.


35 Responses to Embracing Mediocrity

  1. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Well, unless a top-line C is found, their PK remains status quo, and they don't get more truculent…Then this teem is doomed for mediocracy once again. 

    A team that will remain in the 6-10 range for years to come…Possibly can get to a conference final on a magnificent run, but no championship.
    If a first-line C is found, he does not need to be automatically paired with Kessel. Kessel-Boxak-Lupul is producing so why break something up that is not broke? 
    Why not pair the player up with Kulemin and Frattin to see if he can get his lifeless ass going.
  2. LeafsNation4Ever says:

    You really hate Kulemin eh? What did you think of him last year? I remember people were really hyped up on him this summer, lol, but I always thought he was just feeding off Grabo's and MacArthur's offensive breakout.. Though he is good defensively I always saw him as a 20 goal scorer. He surprised me last year.

  3. hockey_lover says:

    Oh yeah .. times change.

    Over the summer, someone had mentioned what it would take for the Leafs to get Jordan Staal. I said it would start with Kulemin. I was called all kinds of crazy.

    That trade idea isnt looking that bad anymore.

  4. mapleleafsfan says:

    I was definitely arguing with you over that one, but i'd still sorta stand by it. Obviously things change and staal is definitely worth more than kuley but staal solves no problem at all. He puts up average numbers (tiny bit better than grabo, worse than connolly) and is no where close to a first line C. 

    And even for the defensive aspect, it's more our system that sucks than anything. As good defensively as staal may be, our pk sucks with or without him. Reimers save % shorthanded is around 75% and the system doesn't allow any pressure – staal wouldn't fix anything there. Just not really worth moving assets for something we don't need.
  5. LeafsNation4Ever says:

    And as usual it comes down to the Coach… Getting rid of him won't solve all our problems but it won't create new ones I suppose.

  6. mapleleafsfan says:

    I don't think we are serious competitors until we get a true 1C, or at least consistent contribution from all lines but I just can't stand wilson. I know he's not in charge of the pk directly but if it's bottom of the league every year he's here he needs to take charge of it. There are at least 3-4 games where we can directly blame the pk for the loss. If he had even average pk we would have won. Take away 3-4 losses and make them wins and we're fighting for top of the conference, not he bottom. It's such a waste. 

  7. TheLeafNation91 says:

    You're messed in the head if you think Grabovski is anywhere near Staal.

    You're messed in the head to think this team can go forward without good C's.

    Championships are built up the middle…Not on the wings. Grabovski, Bozak, and Connolly will not do much for you in the postseason…If you can make it with them.

  8. LeafsFTW17 says:

    So Reimer is getting the start thursday, anyone else not agree with that descision?
    He's struggled 2 games in a row now and Gustavvsson has played well enough and deserves a start for once. 

    Also Lombardi is coming back soon, send down Kadri again or what…? Kadri also deserves to play but he can't be a 4th liner so that would make him the odd man out instead of Crabb/Boyce.

  9. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Don't agree.

    Gustavsson might make huge saves, but he also lets in very soft goals at times.

    Though Reimer has struggled, he's your best chance to win every night. I have more faith in Reimer than Gustavsson, despite his poor play on Tuesday (Let's not forget he was very good last week).

  10. frankinboltonleafs says:

    Despite the wins he, Reimer, wasn't that great last week. Gustavsson had the hot hand before Reimer healed. This season is the best I've seen him play so I'm not sure why he's not being given the same chance as Reimer. Neither really are a No 1….that being said both should be given the chance equally to see what we have. That's pretty much what this season is all about re our goaltending. I think Reimer is getting too much benefit of the doubt 'cause everyone "likes" him.

  11. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Reimer had 40+ saves against the Kings, the same as the Sabres, allowed a combined 7 goals in those games three games.

    Not sure if you know this, but Reimer is 7-3-2 this year. His GAA is up, but most of it came from right after a tough injury when I expected it to go up. I expect it to lower once he gets settled down once again. He's 27-13-4 in his career…Not to shabby.

    Most goalies struggled in their first game since the Xmas break. The first goal was a two way deflection, the second goal was a whiff by Thomas…Or Reimer was squared with him…Only the third goal I actually questioned. Also, they said it was his first TIME in a Leafs uniform he got pulled. So, if that is not consistency…I don't know what is.

    I think its stupid that you people (I've heard this before on HTR) are doubting Reimer and want to go with Gustavsson. He's 9-7, with a worse GAA, and save percentage??? How is that an upgrage??? When he's down, he lets in goals from anywhere. When Toronto climbs back into a game, he seems to allow in the worst goal to make a bigger gap (As in Florida yesterday). Reimer though, despite giving up a bad goal, usually does everything possible to keep his team in a game…And he's done that on numerous occasions (Versus Phoenix, versus the Kings, versus the Devils) this year. So I don't know where all this 'Gustavsson should be ahead of Reimer' bull crap that people say comes from?

    You should give Reimer the benefit of the doubt…He's your teams #1. No matter how much he struggles in ONE game. You go back to him!!!

    This is actually GOOD coaching by Wilson…And if theirs one thing about Reimer, he usually does not string two bad performances together in a row.

  12. TheLeafNation91 says:

    As well, their is something called a sophmore slump after a strong rookie season. Many goaltenders have experienced it and Reimer should be no different.

    Carey Price experience many, Cam Ward experienced one, Marc-Andre Fleury looked horrible, Roberto Luongo, etc.

    Not comparing Reimer to any of these guys, but he has dealt with his sophmore season pretty well compared to some of the. He has overcome a concussion in his first full season in the pros and the fact that his numbers are not a lot worse is actually a positive.

    He's only 23 and his maturity as a player is quite positive to see. The guy never gets down on himself and you need your goalie to go in confidently into every night. I'm actually quite impressed.

    Disagree of you must, but theirs no way Gustavsson would be better then Reimer.

  13. mapleleafsfan says:

    How is Grabo not anywhere near Staal? I'd take Staal over Grabo any day don't get me wrong. Staal is the better overall player. But he's not in a league of his own. He's a very good 2nd/3rd line center. He's not a first line center. Grabo is a fine 2nd line center but also isn't a first line center. Their offensive production is basically a wash. Grabo is basically on par for the same number of points as last season with absolutely no production from his linemates. He has heart and grit and is a perfectly fine second line center. You can't exactly snub a 60 point center on your second line. Him and connolly are a perfectly fine 2nd/3rd line combo at the moment. Staals defensive game is superior for sure but defensively we're fine (save pk – but that's the system).

    Again, I'd take staal over grabo but why waste assets on a non urgent position? 
    I said get a first line center so I don't know why you think I think this team doesn't need center depth. 
    Wouldn't you rather target eric staal with our valuable assets? 
    Sure, once we're in a position to actually push in the playoffs, maybe move assets to secure the 2nd/3rd line center role if colborne/kadri can't make the jump (Connolly couldn't last a long playoff run). But as it stands, it just doesn't make sense to go for a player that doesn't improve us all that much right now. 
    1st line center or gtfo. 
  14. mapleleafsfan says:

    Agree with this 100%. I hate how fans are so ready to beat up on reimer for one bad game. As much as people think competition can help the tandem it won't. You don't want reimer stressing every time he lets in a goal that his job is at stake. He's our number 1. Gustavsson has had some good games but he lets in weak goals which deflates the hell out of a young leafs team. Reimers numbers are by far better and the team plays much better in front of him. 

    Wilson is giving reimer the chance to bounce back tonight to show him that he has confidence in him (as you should with your starter). 
    Maybe if he gets stinks it up for a little more than one game we can start to talk about gus starting. Reimer carried the team the second half of last year. He has the skill, let's not ruin his confidence. 
  15. 93killer93 says:

    Staal doesn't get the offensive credit he deserves.  I think he is more than capable of being a number 1 centre in the league. This season because of injuries he was given a chance to show he can produce offensively.  In the 23 games he played this season while Sid was out he put up 12 goals and 18 points in 23 games. That's enough for a 43 goal and 64 point season. Break that down even more, in the first 15 games he had 8 goals and 12 points.  The 5 games during that span when both Sid and Geno where out he had 4 goals. It's not unthinkable that he would be a 30-40 goal, 80 point guy with the leafs, especially with the way Kessel and Lupul are playing right now.  

  16. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I don't even think it will ruin his confidence.

    If you hear the way he speaks during interviews, he's very calm and collected.

    It's like nothing phases him and he just wants to go out and play, something that I have not seen on Toronto goal tenders in a long time.

    Gustavsson, on the other hand, is like a mess when it comes to having confidence in his game. Why would you want that in a goaltender?

    I just don't get the dilemna??? One bad game and its bye Reimer???

    How about Kulemin's 3 goals in 36 games? How is that not a bigger issue?? I feel like people are blind at times.

  17. TheLeafNation91 says:

    When we talk about Staal. Were talking about Eric and not Jordan???

    Erik's team is dead last in the league, they want to rebuild and want to dump his salary since Carolina are penny pinchers. As well, they have two very good young C's in Skinner and Sutter..Jordan's team is a contender and they need him now more than ever since Crosby might never play again!! So why trade him?

    Once again, when were talking about Staal…Were talking about Erik. Which is what I was referring to in my post.

  18. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Woops, that dodo was referring to Jordan. I don't know why…But he was.

    I apologize as I just saw Stall…So I was referring to Eric.

    My bad.

  19. mapleleafsfan says:

    My initial post was responding to hockey_lover who was talking about jordan. We talked about jordan staal some time in the summer/last year. Obviously he's not available right now but it was talked about a bit last year. 

    But yea, if you were talking about eric he's in a different league than grabo for sure. And I think he should be the leafs target right now. 
  20. mapleleafsfan says:

    Fair enough. I always see jordan as overrated but he for sure is talented. But regardless, I don't want a potential number 1. His offensive numbers for the whole season are still not fantastic and unless he can prove he's a consistent scorer he's not the guy I think we should target (not that he's available anyways). 

    That said, if pittsburg had made a trade around kuley for staal, they'd be kicking themselves now. Pittsburgs center depth is awesome. Funny how they can lose the best player in the league, still have the 2nd best center in the league AND jordan staal down the middle. 
  21. LeafsFTW17 says:

    Everyone knows that Reimer is the better goalie and that he is the number one the fact of the matter is that Gus (still the backup) should get a start. 

    It's been a while since he started last and it's good to get your back-up goalie in for once. I can't see a better time then to give Reimer a rest, let him calm down a bit and let Gus play while he's hot. 

    And with Kulemin it's bad, lots of people think his drought is over because he scored but that was a penalty shot.  He is on pace for 6 goals. Pretty impressive considering I and some others thought he could reach 35 this year. 

  22. mapleleafsfan says:

    Yea I admire the way Reimer acts. But at the same time he's had awesome support from leafs nation thus far. If they were to turn on him I'm sure it would knock his confidence a bit. 

    But yea, I think he has the mentality and the skill to be a starter. I hate inconsistency more than anything in a goalie. I think I'd rather have a consistently bad goalie than one who can stand on his head and then let in a floater. The team just can't adjust well when they don't know what to expect. Reimer is pretty consistently solid. Gus is too on and off. 
    I don't want leafs fans to turn into habs fans and crap on a goalie for a rough game. Reimer has been great for us, people need to give him some time before we throw him overboard. 
  23. mapleleafsfan says:

    lol no worries

  24. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I think so as well. It's a huge step back instead of a step forward in his development.

    I remember bringing this up on his 10th game drought and I remember people saying it was a small slump and one goal=30. However, even when he did score that one goal on the 25th game of his slump…Still looks like nothing has changed in his game to say that his slump is over.

    In a NHL 12 world, I would trade him in a second. However, the Leafs don't have many power forwards on this team, so unless the return is Bobby Ryan in a deal or whatever upgrade, we unfortunately have to keep him because we don't have many grit guys.

  25. habs79 says:

    Actually breaking up Kessel – Bozak – Lupul is exactly what they should do. Put MacArthur on a line with Bozak and Lupul, and then put Kessel with Connolly and Kadri on the wing.

    I understand not breaking something if it's not broke. However the Leafs need scoring depth, plus it will also give Kadri a chance to prove he is a top 6 forward. 
  26. Steven_Leafs says:

    yeah that wasn't confusing at all. New rule: use initials. lol.

    Anyway I think Jordan Staal would be a solid piece for us, I think if he was given a chance on a team where we wasn't considered a no.3 center by a mile he could preform very well as a no.1 center. He produces less than Eric (obviously) but paired with the right wingers and I think he can do well. It all depends on the cost for him, I wouldn't give up too much for him, Kadri and Schenn are off limits for sure.

  27. Steven_Leafs says:

    I wouldn't tear up Lupul and Kessel, Switching Bozak out for Connolly or Grabovski is fine with me but you cannot tear up the 2 best forwards on the team, it makes them easier to shut down.

  28. Steven_Leafs says:

    he only actually struggled in the game with Florida, the 3 games before it he got us 5/6 points on over 100 shots combined. I think starting Reimer is the right choice, he gives us the best chance to win.

  29. lafleur10 says:

    leafsnation91 i agree with you on this topic….hell i'm not even a leafs fans and i can tell you that bustavsson is no where near as good as reimer is! and reimer isn't good as any of the goalies you mentioned price, ward,fleury he's a step below those guys but is stil a good #1 goalie . if the leafs had bustavsson as their full time strater you'd be wayy out of by now. he looks good in stretches but he gives up way to many soft goals and can't make the big saves wehn really needed as where reimer can that's why he's the #1……….but i remember  atime on here when leafs fans were saying that bustavsson was better than price!

  30. mapleleafsfan says:

    Wow the leafs suck… 3-1 lead in the third blown. Stupid penalty by connolly.. Schenn/Phaneuf/Aulie suck… How can you just watch while they wack it infront and wait for it to go in… Why does schenn think he has any offensive ability at all?  How does kessel get no shots? How did Wilson get an extension? Call a timeout BEFORE you blow the lead… No timeout, carolina comes out flying and has no problem tying the game… 

    I'm bitter as hell towards this team. 
    Package schenn for a center now. He's just another useless 'tough guy' defenceman. Calling him a shutdown guy is pretty funny considering he's incapable of shutting people down and just makes stupid plays. Franson also sucks, so lucky we even went to OT. Completey replaceable players via FA.. Get a center, fire wilson and I won't want to smash my TV into a million pieces watching these hacks. 
    Bright side kadri is awesome to watch, big fan. 
  31. frankinboltonleafs says:

    Did anyone watch tonights game? And is anyone still unclear about how we don't have a No 1? I like Reimer too….we have D issues…but holy crap that was bad! This should have been Jonas' start.

  32. frankinboltonleafs says:

    This probably was discussed here before….but in the garage here we were questioning how Burke fired two ass. coaches and brought in who he wanted. Doesn't a coach usually pick his assistants? Burke said he thought the team needed a change there…where everyones on Wilson doesn't that move look kinda weird? I can't remember us getting so many too many men calls…not tonight….but over this season. So…if he dumped Wilson…does Burke tell the new caoch: "these are you assitants"?

  33. habs79 says:

    Or harder cause then they wouldn't have to face the other teams shutdown tandem night after night after night. 

  34. LeafsNation4Ever says:

    Burke got the assistants Wilson wanted, but yeah, I wanna get rid of Wilson as well.

  35. Steven_Leafs says:

    did you watch the game? The first goal is pretty much the only one you can say he should have had (even though if the skaters could get the puck out of their zone on the first attempt it never would have happened). He may not have been unbelievable this game but if the Leafs didn't give up a break-away or take a retarded tripping penalty they could have won. 

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