Ron Wilson: Kessel right to back Phaneuf

Sportsnet's NHL senior writer Chris Johnston feels even having a discussion on the media is cringe-worthy, and also points out that for all intents and purposes, the media prefers a good Leafs team rather than a bad one.

Ron Wilson has gone from invisible to omnipresent.

The former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach steered clear of the game and its media for months after he was replaced by Randy Carlyle in 2012, but lately he’s been appearing on radio and TV with some regularity, giving his take on the club that let him go.

Wilson, 59, hopped on Dean Blundell & Co.’s show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday morning. Here are nine things we learned listening to him.

1. He doesn’t hate the Maple Leafs.
“I don’t really hate the Maple Leafs, but I don’t want them to do well,” Wilson said.

He figures that’s a natural sentiment shared by most people who get fired from a job in which they’ve invested so much time and hard work.

2. He made a pact with himself to stop hating the team after trade deadline.
“I took the curse off, and lo and behold, they won.” Big laugh.

3. Wilson doesn’t really know Randy Carlyle. But he knows how he feels.

LISTEN: Ron Wilson talks Phaneuf, Kessel, Carlyle, and a desire to coach again

4. He might’ve waited too long to try to get back into coaching.
Fired by Toronto three years ago this week, Wilson sounds doubtful he’ll be able to get another NHL head-coaching gig.

“Although I certainly would love to,” he said. “We’ll see if anybody’s interested.”

However, he’s not exactly jumping at prospect of coaching in Europe.

5. Wilson didn’t expect his “uncoachable” comment to blow up the way it did.
“That’s when you say, enough’s enough. I don’t need this kinda crap,” he explained. “I just forgot how intense what I say can be to people, so I want to back off on the Leafs.”

6. He felt burnt out after the firing.
“I had coached for 19 straight years without any time off,” he said.

And that’s why he walked away from the game and was silent for so long. The return to television coincides with a return of his desire to get behind the bench.

7. He agrees with Phil Kessel’s defence of Dion Phaneuf.
“Dion doesn’t play and he gets blamed for what’s happening with the Leafs. I fully support Dion. I was the one who made him captain,” Wilson said.

“I feel for him… It certainly wouldn’t be fun to be Dion Phaneuf in Toronto.”

8. Wilson believes Phaneuf is miscast, logging a team-high 23:12 per game.
“He can be great for three or four months, but I think the toll adds up on him,” Wilson said. “He’s a good No. 2 defenceman, but unfortunately the Leafs don’t have No. 4 or 5 right now for him to play behind. He’s gotta carry the load.”

9. Wilson is in favour of the “scorched earth” approach:
“They’ve somehow gotta go right down to the bone and restart this franchise. It’s going to take a good seven or eight years to get the Leafs back to where everybody’s comfortable with them.”

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