BOSTON -- Ron Wilson will not tolerate his prolific callup, Jeremy Williams, getting a swollen head.
Unless, of course, Williams happens to get a puck in the noggin.
Seriously, Wilson has warned Williams, who was called up from the Marlies on Dec. 7 and scored in his first three games before being shut out last night, that he expects three things from him now that he is with the big team.
- Maintain his scoring touch. That, after all, is the main staple of Williams' game.
- Play well defensively, which has been a problem for Williams in the past, at least at the NHL level.
- Do not get cocky, which Wilson suggested has been another problem for Williams after he has been called up to Toronto in the past.
"He can't get full of himself," Wilson said recently. "I've been told that he gets very comfortable, very quickly.
"Right now, I'm watching him with a microscope and if I see him getting comfortable, then we'll yank his chain," the coach added.
How's that for pressure?
Williams has been a scoring machine since being called up and, in fact, throughout his career. He now has seven goals in 23 career games for Leafs. He once scored 52 goals in 68 games in junior. But the key to sticking in Toronto and putting together a solid NHL career is to keep playing in his own end and staying grounded -- which the Regina native said he now fully understands.
"That's something that every hockey player needs to have on their repertoire -- to keep the highs not as high and the lows not as low. I want to try to stay as level as possible," Williams said yesterday. "Every day is a new day and every game is a new game. I just want to work on the things that they told me to work on and continue to compete and hopefully things keep working out.
"What I don't want to do is get comfortable," he added. "And I think once you start getting comfortable, you lose part of the edge of your game. And I want to continue to play with that edge."
Williams acknowledged that, yes, perhaps in seasons past, he might have become a little cocksure. But he added that that is okay, to a degree.
"You know, a lot of people use the word cocky (to describe me)," he said. "I think confidence is such a huge part in this game and I think there's a fine line between (confidence and being cocky). But you have to be confident out on the ice and right now I think I am. I don't see myself as someone who is overly high on myself.
"It's all about working hard and keeping a level head."