Ron Wilson wishes Leafs went younger, sooner

Two months ago I was a bit bullish on Brian Burke. I wasn’t too
enthused with his selections for the USA hockey team for the Olympics,
and his team wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire up in Toronto. He
had been hailed as the savior for the Leafs and I, along with others,
weren’t exactly patient with him realizing his plan. Well, he was right about Team USA and at the end of the season his Leafs looked to be turning the corner.

coach, Ron Wilson, wasn’t too happy with their decisions either, and
wishes they had done differently as well:

“If I could
do anything over again, I would have gone with all the young
guys I thought had made our team at training camp (and) had outplayed a
lot of veterans,” Wilson said Monday.

After the
trade deadline, when the Leafs unloaded most of their team unto the
Calgary Flames, most wandered just how successful a glorified AHL team
could be turn. Turns out, they became one of the hottest teams in the
NHL through March and April.

Wilson cites his lack of
confidence in Vesa Toskala and the team’s reliance on pricey veterans as
a reason for the team’s early failures. It was only after the young
players stepped up, gained confidence and had a solid goaltender behind
them that the team started to gel.

Of course, it was too late at
that point.

Unfortunately, the Leafs gave up their first and
second rounders this year in exchange for Phil Kessel (and next year’s
first), so having some instant help for this season’s foibles isn’t
possible. But Nazem Kadri is on his way, and the Leafs should embrace a
younger approach to rebuilding than trying to win now and rebuild all at
the same time.

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