Ron Wilson provided some of the best quotes of the World Junior Championship.
It started when the American coach criticised TSN for creating an “unconscionable amount of pressure” on the Canadian players. He followed up that line by saying he didn’t know who Alexander Nylander was, and that was after Nylander scored the only goal in a 1-0 Sweden win. Then, Wilson added his two cents about the downfall of Team Canada.
But Wilson saved his best sound bite for last – or, at least, as of yet. Before his American team faced off against Russian in the semifinal, he dropped this:
“I couldn’t tell you any players on the Russian team,” he said. “That’s probably a good thing that I don’t know any of their players.”
TSN’s Mark Masters asked the natural follow-up query: “Why is that a good thing?”
“Because I don’t know them,” Wilson said. “Do you know any of the Russian players? Do you? No. I’m in the same boat. I’ve never seen them play before.”
Surely, it was time to check a scouting report or some video. Masters asked if he would.
“No, I’m not. We play with our team. That’s what I’m going to trust.”
Well, that strategy didn’t really work out too well. The Americans are now playing for bronze after losing 2-1 to the group of no-name Russians on Monday.
Yegor Korshkov led the way with two points, including the winning goal. Oh, he’s only Russia’s top point producer.
Ron Wilson right now, staring out at the ice: "Who ARE those guys?"
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) January 4, 2016
Ron Wilson will review tape of game. Will get 2 see Russia for 2nd time... And learn a few names. Way to pompous for me
— Matthew Barnaby (@MattBarnaby3636) January 4, 2016
If only Ron Wilson was familiar with the old saying, better the devil you know than the devil you don't.
— Chris Cuthbert (@CCtsn) January 4, 2016
That's too bad. I was looking forward to Ron Wilson not knowing what Finland is.
— Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) January 4, 2016
Even with Wilson’s self-acknowledged lack of knowledge about various opponents, he did maintain his solid resume at international hockey events.
As Chris Peters from CBS Sports noted, Wilson has now made the semifinal in seven of eight tournaments when coaching the red, white and blue.
Perhaps, the Americans – and by extension Wilson – could have done better if he’d been a bit more prepared.
Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir noted that Wilson has been outspoken about getting another NHL job and the comments he made throughout the tournament probably didn’t help his chances.
The late Pat Quinn won gold with Canada at the 2009 world juniors and used the tourney to springboard back into the NHL after being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wilson was in the same predicament and had the same opportunity. But he came across like he neglected to study for a massive final exam.
So now the Americans play the Swedes with third place on the line, missing out on a chance to face the Finns for gold.
Maybe, he might want to learn who Alexander Nylander is now. Hint: he’s the Swedes' leading scorer, too.