Toskala likes idea of reunion

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Vesa Toskala just had finished playing a game of tennis in his native Finland yesterday when he learned that Ron Wilson likely was on the verge of being his coach again, this time with the Maple Leafs.

In Toskala's mind, the Leafs might very well be serving up an ace if they lock up Wilson, his long-time bench boss with the San Jose Sharks.

"I feel a bit uncomfortable talking too much about this yet until there is an official announcement, but what I can say is that he's a very good coach and a good candidate," Toskala said in a phone interview from his hometown of Tampere, moments after being informed by Sun Media that Wilson appeared to be the No. 1 target on the Leafs radar. "Really good."

No player on the Leafs roster is more familiar with Wilson than Toskala, who emerged as Toronto's first-string goaltender during the 2007-08 season. Wilson was Toskala's coach in San Jose from the goaltender's NHL debut in 2002 until he was traded to the Leafs last June along with Mark Bell for first-round, second-round and fourth-round draft picks.

Toskala's most successful season under Wilson's tutelage was in 2005-06 when he temporarily usurped Evgeni Nabokov as the Sharks starter. From Feb. 8 of that season he went 17-2-2 down the stretch, dropping his goals-against average from 3.25 to 2.56 while elevating his save percentage from .872 to .901.

For observers watching from the outside, the often outspoken Wilson appears to be demanding at times, issuing the odd tongue-lashing at those the coach feels are underperforming.

But Toskala quickly shot down that stereotype, claiming there is more to Wilson than meets the eye.

"He was a real players' (coach) in San Jose," Toskala said. "He was always in the dressing room joking around with the guys.

"He's not really a big yeller."

Toskala said Wilson's door always was open for players who needed to talk.

"He was really good that way, although I never really complained too much," Toskala said "He's just a good guy."

With Wilson behind the bench in San Jose, Toskala posted a 65-28-10 record as a member of the Sharks. After seeing first-hand how well Toskala can turn away the opposition when on the top of his game, a potential reunion between coach and goalie would appear, at least on the surface, to be a welcomed scenario.

For both parties.


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