Here We Go Again
You'd think Ron Wilson would learn from the Luke Schenn experience.
Keeping teenagers in the NHL is a tricky business, fraught with peril. Yet there was Wilson yesterday essentially saying he wants Nazem Kadri on the Leaf roster next fall.
He didn't say Kadri must earn a roster position and beating out older more experienced players like Tyler Bozak, John Mitchell, Christian Hanson and Mikhail Grabovski.
He didn't say Kadri better be ready to fight for a spot. He didn't say what Leaf management believes, that Kadri better come to camp in superior condition and play well or he'll find himself back in London next fall.
It was Wilson who said Schenn was ready, and two years later you have a former fifth overall pick of uncertain value. Schenn never should have stayed in the NHL as an 18-year-old, but Wilson saw he was better than what he otherwise had.
That's why you don't let coaches make calls on teenagers. As coaches, they necessarily think short term.
If Kadri isn't forced to earn a position, you get right back into this circle of self-entitlement that the Leafs were supposed to be trying to exorcise from the organization.
Wilson's words put him in direct conflict with the front office, particularly when he now says he would have preferred to go with a much younger team last fall. He's second guessing Brian Burke and Co., and already setting the stage for next fall when, if the team doesn't do well, he can say he's doing the best he can with a 19-year-old at the No. 1 centre spot.
Kadri should only be a Leaf next fall if he's truly ready, and really, if Bozak and Hanson and Viktor Stalberg had to spend time in the minors this season, why couldn't Kadri spend another year in junior if that was best for his development.
Got a feeling this could be a tricky issue next fall.