Mike Babcock Dismissed Tom Wilson's Impact On The Series Only To Watch Him Score The Overtime Winner In Game 1
FTW- Before Game 1 between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock weighed in on Capitals’ fourth line bruiser Tom Wilson.
“Nothing against (Wilson), because he works hard and all that, but he’s not as big of concern as a lot of people on their team. He’s a forechecker and he works hard, I think their fourth line has been real good for them. In saying that, they’ve got a lot of players that we’ll concern ourselves with more.”
I don't know if it's considered the first laugh because it came after the opening game of the series, or the last laugh because it placed Mike Babcock's foot directly in his mouth. Either way, Tom Wilson is the one left with a well deserved smile on his face after having his impact called into question and answering with this shockingly accurate sudden death snipe...
And you know what? As much as I hate the guy, he should take pleasure in tickling Mike Babcock's tonsils with his own toes. In fact, we all should. Not just because the juxtaposition of his comments to the unlikely goal that sealed his team's fate is objectively hilarious, but because the Maple Leafs coach has far too much postseason experience not to realize that speaking ill of a goon's offensive prowess - or lack thereof - is the quickest way to fall victim to it. The playoffs are the time of year in which the unexpected is to be expected, and nothing is more unexpected than Tom Wilson doing something notable that didn't require the on-ice presence of a gurney.
That being said, we can stop short of pretending that Mike Babcock's lack of concern about hockey's most morally compromised dickhead is what cost him the game. If Toronto had game planned around Tom Wilson their first order of business wouldn't have been drawing up clearing attempts that didn't go in his direction. They wouldn't have been more wary of getting in the way of a haphazard shot - that was basically the equivalent of a blind squirrel finding a nut - if they ran the tape on Tom Wilson. Hell, the Toronto Maple Leafs would have more likely to come out in full cages than worry about their defensive zone positioning if Tom Wilson was the player they were worried about. If the 4th liner with a track record of complete and utter lawlessness was their first priority than they would have stitched their numbers onto the front of their jerseys just to confuse him. They would have added 3-6 neurological experts to their postseason staff, and avoided the corners at all costs.
I love that Mike Babcock got his careless babble cucked and for one night looked like he didn't know as much as acts like he does. Still, the mere coincidence that made that possible wouldn't have been avoided by treating Tom Wilson like an NHL forward that's consistently capable of anything more than causing concussions.