Top 10 Americans To Watch in 2011-2012

USA Hockey Magazine is counting down the top 10 Americans to watch in 2011-2012. In no particular order, this list features players and personnel from all different levels.

5. Ron Wilson, Toronto Maple Leafs

BORN: May 28, 1955

Sept. 29 Ryan Callahan
Oct. 1
Tyler Biggs
Oct. 2
Dean Blais
Oct. 3
Seth Jones
Oct. 4
Knight, Decker
Oct. 5
Ron Wilson
Oct. 6
David Backes
Oct. 7
Rocco Grimaldi
Oct. 8
Zach Parise
Oct. 9
?

HOMETOWN: Riverside, Rhode Island

LAST SEASON:  Coached the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 10th-place finish in the Eastern Conference 37-34-11 (85 points).

There are a few reasons to keep an eye on 2010 U.S. Olympic Silver Medal coach Ron Wilson.

Wilson faces pressure in Toronto, now entering his fourth year as head coach after missing the playoffs his first three seasons. Fans knew it wouldn’t be an easy feat, but with an influx of talent and trades, Wilson will look to lead his team back to postseason play.

Some eye-catching names on that roster include two players fresh out of the NCAA: University of Wisconsin’s Jake Gardiner and North Dakota’s Matt Frattin.

Gardiner and Frattin symbolize the direction Toronto’s front office has been gravitating toward the past few years. There are a total of 10 former NCAA hockey players that have made the Maple Leafs opening-night roster:

Gardiner, Frattin, Tyler Bozak (Denver), Mike Komisarek (Michigan), Mike Brown (Michigan), Joey Crabb (Colorado College), Phil Kessel (Minnesota), David Steckel (Ohio State), John-Michael Liles (Michigan State), Jay Rosehill (Minnesota Duluth).

Good news for college hockey and its followers.

Another reason to “follow” Wilson, is through social media. He is the first NHL coach on Twitter – publicly, at least. His Twitter handle is @CoachRW63.

Wilson launched his first tweet on Oct. 1. What we do know, other than the fact that he’s a big New York Yankees fan, is that Wilson could provide fans an intriguing perspective on all-things hockey.

Case in point: After the Maple Leafs traded for David Steckel on Tuesday, Wilson praised the acquisition and provided details – almost like a press conference – as to why the organization made the deal.

@coachrw63 Ron Wilson

Steckel immediately improves our PK. Size is a huge bonus. Faceoffs are going to help bigtime in all areas. Can also help on the wing!

Time will tell if Wilson continues to tweet us his hockey thoughts. Do you think it’s a good idea? Tweet us your take at @USAHMagazine.

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