Wilson connects with Singletary

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Mike Singletary, you have a kindred coaching spirit in Toronto.

Like many sports fans, Maple Leafs bench boss Ron Wilson caught the television replays Singletary's post-game rant after his first game as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

And as a coach who isn't afraid of invoking the same style of tough love to his players, Wilson applauded the passion and style of the former Chicago Bears great.

"It's funny. The biggest thing I'm watching on TV right now is one of the worst teams in the NFL and the coach holds (the players) accountable," Wilson said yesterday when asked yet again about his regular benching of veterans early this season. "It seems up here, if a coach holds a team or player accountable, it's a bad thing."

In case you missed it, Singletary didn't accept sub-par performances in Sunday's 34-13 loss to Seattle and he didn't wait until the next game to administer repercussions. Fumbling, stumbling quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan was benched in the second quarter and tight end Vernon Davis was sent to the locker room with 10 minutes remaining.

"I think it's a good thing," Wilson said of both his own style and that of Singletary. "Otherwise, why have a coach. You're paying me way too much if I'm not teaching them how to play and hold them accountable."

The occasional bruised ego aside, the Leafs have responded well to Wilson's moves, part of the reason they are riding a two-game win streak and seem to be getting stronger by the game.

It's certainly a solid frame of mind to take into a three-games-in-five nights stretch beginning with tonight's date against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Air Canada Centre.

While it's just a small sampling, the Leafs have more than held their own in a tough opening stretch that included wins over Ottawa and Detroit and only one brutal loss (against Montreal).

Wilson said yesterday he has no lineup changes planned from the group that defeated the Senators on Saturday night, but final decisions won't be made until this morning after the coaching staff has had more time to look at game tape of previous Lightning games.

So far, Wilson has been impressed with the way certain players have bounced back, notably Matt Stajan, who has been elevated to the first line at times since sitting out the team's third game of the season against St. Louis.

"For each player, it's different," Stajan said yesterday. "I've been given a good chance here to log some minutes and play in some key situations.

"All I can do is make sure I go out there and win every battle."


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