Thursday, November 13

Jason Blake Finds Religion: Converts to Wilsonism

"Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child" is an old proverb which suggests that the only way to get someone small in stature to do what you want, is to give them a firm but loving lesson in discipline. After all, it's for their own good. This oft used maxim sounds great in theory, but always seems to boil down to some over-weight, over-young, over-kidded woman wailing on her 4 year old in public because he was playing with the bread at the Safeway. Usually...

Ron "Cruella De Vil" Wilson tried out that very notion on someone small in stature this week, when he got out the belt and beat Jason Blake back to Moorhead, Minn. for playing with the very same bread. Or actually, for not playing with enough of it.

For some incredible reason, the term "Healthy Scratch" just kind of gets under your skin when you're a former all-star 1.25 seasons out from a 40 goal year for a rotten team, and doesn't Wilson know it. Similar to what he did with M. Stajan, when he basically told him to fuck off and die on the 4th line (or worse), Wilson did just what he always said he would: He'd hold his players accountable for their play, and those who play well would get rewarded. Those who don't, he hands a parasol and a little sign with "YIKES!" written on it, and kicks them over a cliff.

Wilson walks it after he talks it, and aren't we glad for it? Paul Maurice is great at a lot of things as a coach, but kicking fat asses is not one of them. The ridiculous Leaf tenure of future Finnish League star Kyle Wellwood speaks to that. One of the reasons Wilson is getting so much out of this team is because he absolutely insists that you listen to the icy tough-love that comes from his lump-of-coal heart, or, to push the metaphor even further, from a Gibson ES-335

Thursday's game at The wait...the...yes, The ACC against Edmonton was the very first time in a Leafs uniform I saw the Jason Blake whom I hated when he was with the Islanders: a mean little prick who I'd pray my beloved Darcy would kick the living Jesus Christ out of. I wanted that because he was dangerous every game the Leafs played against him, and because his absolute lack of melanin gave me an easy go-to physical trait which I deemed he must be punished for. Thursday, he drove the Oilers nuts while they ran all over the ice trying to get him to snap. Snap he did, snapping two-points into the boxscore, pausing only once to try and cripple Lubo Visnovsky.

All this coming in the middle of another hard working, everyone-producing, Leafs effort. A commonplace sorely lacking in Toronto teams of the recent past. As the Leafs build toward the future, this is exactly the kind of identity you need once you re-enter the rarefied air of the Stanley Cup playoffs.