Since he arrived in Toronto, I've been a Ron Wilson apologist. I was happy when the team signed him despite many complaints from others about his lack of playoff success with the Sharks.
I understood the poor results of the past two seasons under Wilson given the relative lack of talent on the team and knowing that a team that had undertaken such a significant overhaul was bound to take more than a little time to come together.
Despite this, I've never liked his propensity for calling out his players publicly.
Granted, the players he targets tend to deserve it (see Toskala, Vesa) but it rarely does any good to call players out, particularly the type of personality Wilson tends to attack. Does Phil Kessel seem like a guy who is going to have his inner fire ignited by a public lashing? Better question: Does Phil Kessel seem like a guy that even has an inner fire?
Recently, Wilson has been calling out his first line for poor play (which has been the case), a lack of attention to detail in the defensive zone (also true), and a lack of overall effort (debatable, but he would know better than I would).
My response to Ron Wilson's incessant bellyaching is an obvious one - make a new first line then. I'm not talking about giving the MacArthur, Grabovski, Kulemin line the first line whites in practice. What I'm talking about is shaking your lines up a little.
I know that a lot of those who champion Wilson will claim that the Leafs have a lack of top six talent and that, as a consequence, his hands are tied. I say, bullcrap.
The Leafs' problem is that they only have one first line forward; Phil Kessel. Your first line if your team is succeeding will invariably have Kessel on it.
The strength of the forward corps, if there is one, is that they have a lot of guys that can play a variety of roles. Kessel could be paired with any combination of Kulemin, Versteeg, Bozak, Caputi, MacArthur, Grabovski and Armstrong (when healthy). Hell, you could even toss Hanson on his wing if you really wanted to.
Having agreed with Wilson's assertion (though not his method of asserting) that the first line hasn't been up to snuff, I would like to see Kulemin head back to the first unit. The guy seems to be the one catalyst for the Leafs this year and has made whatever line he's played on better. You're likely hamstrung into leaving Bozak on the top unit given how well Grabovski and MacArthur have played together which means you'll have to hope he can play his way out of this slump.
Whatever the line combinations are is the job of the headcoach and to some extent, if a line isn't working, it's the coach's job to make things work. Surely, Wilson believes that his public beratings will bring this about. I'm more inclined to think that a line shake up will do it.