The Toronto Maple Leafs are roasting in their own broth of turmoil and embarrassment, so you know what that means: Another visit from Uncle Ronnie!
Just like he did back in March, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN got Ron Wilson on the horn to get his thoughts on the current state of the team. And while many of you probably anticipated those thoughts would manifest as “BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, DUMMIES!!!!”, Wilson had some additional words for Maple Leafs fans who wear suits and toss sweaters.
Back in March, Wilson came to coach Randy Carlyle’s defense by explaining the dynamic in Toronto when it comes to the Leafs:
“In Toronto, everything is always out of perspective; they’re either winning games and they’re planning the parade route,” Wilson said on Monday from his home near Hilton Head, S.C., “or you lose a couple of games and everything gets over-exaggerated.”
This is true, and it’s exactly what we’re seeing now. On Nov. 12, the Leafs were earning praise for making a “statement” in a win against the Bruins. On Nov. 19, GM Dave Nonis had to hold a special press conference to reaffirm his confidence in this group after losses to Buffalo and Nashville by a combined score of 15-4.
But while the media deserves some blame in the constant inflation and deflation of hopes, the bottom line is that Toronto fans are the most psychologically damaged lot in professional sports.
In his conversation with LeBrun on Wednesday, Wilson both acknowledges that and criticizes it, beginning with the tossing of jerseys on the ice:
"And now with the throwing of the jerseys on the ice, does it get any worse than that? That's despicable,'' said Wilson.
He’s not the first to decry the practice, which I’ve defended here, but it’s completely understandable that Wilson would chastise fans that choose to protest the team. After all, that’s why he’s out of a job.
"I know a lot of people say Toronto is the best place to play, but that's only if it's going miraculously well.
"And the only way you're going to be cheered in Toronto is if you happen to be leading with five minutes to go. And you've got a significant lead, then they might happen to get off their hands and give you a cheer.''
Interesting choice of words there: “Miraculously.”
Perhaps if doing well wasn’t something akin to a miracle their enthusiasm wouldn’t be tempered.
Wilson also had words for the suits at the games.
"I was watching last night and at the start of the second period, all the platinums (seats) are totally empty," said Wilson. "It looked on TV like nobody was in the building. Everybody in Toronto talks about how bad it is in Florida, but in Toronto everyone sitting in the platinums are down in the suite drinking and they're not even paying attention to the team. Hockey seems to be secondary, which is a shame."
"It's a morgue at the start of the game," added Wilson. "You score a couple of goals early on the Leafs and then the crowd wakes up and starts to give it to the Leafs instead of encouraging them.''
Yes, what a devastating disadvantage this must have been for Wilson’s Leafs teams.
Oh, wait, they had a better record at home (52-48-23) than on the road (49-59-15) from 2008-2011 under Wilson? THOSE DARN SUITS AREN’T EVEN WATCHING THE TEAM PLAY BETTER ON HOME ICE…
Look, he's not wrong about the suits. He's not wrong about the wild swings of hyperbole in the media and among fans.
Where he is wrong is when Wilson echoed his comments from earlier this year, saying he “just feels so bad for Randy.”
I still don’t understand why. Carlyle’s Leafs have made, in hindsight, made Ron Wilson look like Scotty Bowman by comparison.
MORE NHL COVERAGE ON YAHOO SPORTS: