Die-hard Maple Leafs' fans yesterday were willing to give new coach Ron Wilson a little time to warm up behind the bench -- as long as he brings the Stanley Cup to this hockey-mad city.
"Wilson is a no-nonsense coach and I am optimistic he will turn things around," said Radcliffe Rock, 49, of Etobicoke. "If anyone can turn around this team, he can."
Rock, like most fans, gave Wilson's appointment yesterday as head coach of the popular hockey club a thumbs up.
Wilson, 53, is the Leafs' 20th coach (including interim ones) since they last won the Stanley Cup in 1967.
He was fired May 12 by San Jose Sharks after the team lost to the Dallas Stars in the second round of the playoffs. He succeeds Paul Maurice, who was fired by Toronto last month after missing two playoffs.
A one-time player with the Leafs in the 1970s, Wilson also coached the Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals.
"I think (Wilson) is a positive force for the team," said computer technician Riaz Hasan, 50, of Toronto. "He played with Toronto as a rookie and knows the organization."
Aircraft mechanic Stuart King, 26, said Wilson should be given a chance to prove himself.
"Let's give him a try and see what he does," King argued yesterday. "If he can't produce a winner in two years, then they can get rid of him."
Retiree Peter Ramos said Wilson is only as good as the players on his team.
"He needs to bring youth, team speed and defence to the team," Ramos said. "I don't think he will make a difference unless he can make some moves."
Construction worker Jason Hewitt, 27, said Wilson has to be given the power to make trades and build a winning team.
Everett Sheppard of Little Bit of Home pub on Lake Shore Blvd. W. said Wilson has to be given a free reign to make the team a contender.
"Management has to let him do things his way," Sheppard said yesterday."He can turn this dismal team around."
Here's a sample of what torontosun.com reader had to say about the hiring of Ron Wilson to coach the Maple Leafs:
"Even a great chef can't make a gourmet dinner out of leftovers."
-- Rob Robinson, Barrie
"This is a curious move. What happened to the rebuilding? Ron Wilson has over 500 wins, yes, but the last 300 or so were for teams that had little or no rebuilding projects during his tenure. Unless he is a better hockey teacher than Paul Maurice, this move speaks only to the amount of money this organization has at it's disposal, and its desire to throw it at people. If Wilson somehow packed Joe Thornton and/or Brian Campbell in his luggage, this deal might just bear some fruit."
-- James Toms, Toronto
"Finally, a coach with a keen eye for talent who also knows the combination of skill, speed and physical play today's game needs to be successful. Watching the playoffs was both exhilarating and depressing to realize how far the soft/slow Leafs are from contention. Ron's the man."
-- Neville Pereira, Markham
"Great choice for coach. Now, I say, keep Sundin and bring back Pat Quinn as general manager."
-- Wayne Barry, Beaverton
"He should help the kids develop into better players."
-- Donna Watton, Chatsworth
"Of course, Ron Wilson's the right choice -- if the Leafs want to be a winner one day. It won't happen overnight, but he's got a great track record of working with youngsters and developing them. He was the best candidate available, and the only one we had to interview."
-- Bal Virk, Brampton
"Honestly, Wilson is no better or worse than Maurice was.
I don't believe the coaching was the issue and they are replacing one mediocre coach with another.
The big one will be the GM, and let's hope they make the good choice there."
-- Serge Arseneault, Richmond Hill
"How could it matter who the Leafs bring in as coach? It's the players that need to be changed -- and the management."
-- Peter Towers, Hamilton