Mike: You can exhale, uncross your fingers and toes, uncover your eyes, put down the four-leaf clovers, and – for heaven’s sake – let the rabbit have his feet back. The Wings’ Cup championship was well deserved; they outlplayed their rivals from Steeltown, and it would have been an unjust result had they not prevailed. There had to be a few million Maalox consumed in the Motor City, though, following the harrowing final seconds of the game, with Osgood down and a loose puck bouncing – like deja vu – to the right of the goal and a Pittsburgh attacker whacking away at it with his stick as the clock. Ticked. Slowly. Down.
In other hockey news, the Leafs have apparently made Ron Wilson an offer. The guy has put up some decent numbers with teams in the regular season, he was at the helm of the Capitals (failed) run to the final in 1998, and he coached the U.S. team to victory in the 1996 World Cup, but it’s somewhat troubling to me that the Leafs – professing a desire not just to qualify for the playoffs each year, but to actually win the Stanley Cup – are hiring a guy that was just fired for, at least in part, not being able to get that job done. I worry too that much of Wilson’s success came in the obstruction/holding era of the late 90’s. On the other hand, Wilson’s teams have tended to be pretty good on both power play and penalty kill – two areas that were absolutely woeful for the Leafs this year.
Again I say, it’s almost impossible for an outsider – someone outside the dressing room – to really know whether a hockey coach is “good” or not. So only time will tell, assuming Wilson takes the job, whether this was the right decision. But Messrs. Peddie and Tanenbaum need to look over their blue and white clad shoulders – with 11 Cup championships now, the Wings are fast catching the Leafs in the “number of championships won” category. I spent the early part of my life hoping that Mike Palmateer and Darryl Sittler would propel the Leafs past the hated bleu, blanc et rouge to the top of that list at some point in my lifetime; now I just hope we don’t get passed by the likes of the cephalopod-waving juggernaut from Hockeytown.