One Hundred Games, Thirty-Seven Wins
The first 100 days of any U.S. presidency are often viewed as critical. The tone is set, the optimism from the election is still vibrant and there's a freshness to it all.
Maybe the same's the case for the first 100 games for an NHL coach with a team, a milestone Ron Wilson hit Saturday night with the Leafs against Calgary.
With another loss.
If you're keeping score at home, that's 63 losses for Wilson during his Leaf tenure against 37 triumphs. Of those 63 defeats, 18 have been through either overtime or a shootout.
Of a possible 200 points, Wilson has achieved 92 for a "winning" percentage of .460.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is not good. The optimism from Wilson's hiring is gone and it sure doesn't feel fresh.
The tone? Well, the idea was that a teacher was coming to town, a no-nonsense bench boss who would make sure everything, from defensive zone coverage to the laundry, was done correctly. Wilson spoke of a new culture, an end to any sense of entitlement players might have, something he called the blue-and-white disease.
Interesting, then, to hear Wilson discussing on Monday the need to start benching players who make major errors early in games and punishing players for egregious errors.
Shouldn't that have been happening, oh, 100 games earlier?
When Jason Blake didn't do much opening night on the backcheck to stop the winning goal in overtime by the Montreal Canadiens, nothing much happened. When Matt Stajan didn't get to the red line last Friday with the puck, took an icing call to force a group of exhausted Leafs to stay on the ice which resulted in a costly turnover by Luke Schenn, Stajan just kept on playing. There have been occasional instances in which players have been exiled to the press box to put on a big show, but within games, of late only Colton Orr seems to sit in third periods.
Right now, Wilson is safe, which means he's still got time to turn this thing around. In fact, he's probably got at least until early March, after the Olympics, when he'll be guiding Team U.S. under the management team led by Brian Burke, also his boss with the Leafs.
But even though Wilson has a long term contract, this losing, this consistent weak defensive play, can't go on forever. There are people out there right now who could take the helm - Craig MacTavish, even Wayne Gretzky - and there will be more at season's end.
After 100 games, Wilson's honeymoon is over. He's not in danger of losing his job anytime soon. That said, he's got to start winning some hockey games.