It is only the height of arrogance that would possibly lead one to conclude that Ron Wilson, the coach of the Maple Leafs and in the upcoming Olympics of Team USA, would be anywhere near "public enemy #1" in the eyes of Canadian hockey fans. Yet the Globe and Mail comes to this conclusion here.
Let's face a simple fact: the United States is not a contender for these Olympics. They may have some good talent up front and on the blue line, but a tournament such as this--much like with the Stanley Cup playoffs--it all comes down to goaltending. And when you go into your summer orientation camp with Ryan Miller, Jon Quick, and Tim Thomas, you're in trouble from the get-go. Yes Miller has been good enough to lead his team to regular 10th place finishes, and yes Quick is a solid prospect for the Kings, and yes Thomas is the reigning Vezina winner. But do they hold a candle to Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and whomever ends up as Canada's #3? Can any of them match Henrik Lundqvist? Evgeni Nabokov? No.
But there's more to this story than the idea that there's a huge hockey rivalry between Canada and the United States. It's the idea that because he's the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and thus spends his time at the centre of the hockey universe, and is already not liked by Don Cherry, that somehow this hatred will be amped to an extreme level over the Olympics. Newsflash: people don't give a rat's ass about who is behind the bench; they care about who is on the ice and who will be giving their team fits. Nobody quivers over having to face a guy that coached the 11th place team in the Eastern Conference, and they certainly don't fear him enough to hate him. No, the people that Canadians are going to "hate" for potentially spoiling the party in Vancouver are the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk (wow those Russians are going to be good eh?), Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Lundqvist, and other top-quality international stars.
Nobody is going to waste their team making a "Ron Wilson: Public Enemy #1" sign for these Olympics - at worst, some Leafs fan that already dislikes him will bring a "Fire Wilson" sign to the Games. But there are plenty of bigger fish to fry than Ron Wilson.