He is a parent, a grandparent, and a long-time friend of general manager Brian Burke, who lost his youngest son to a car accident on Friday. The Leafs held a moment of silence to honour the memory of Brendan Burke before Saturday night's game at the Air Canada Centre, displaying his picture on the giant screens above centre ice.
``I've known Brendan almost since the day he was born,'' Wilson said. ``He was a special kid. It's just the worst thing that any parent could possibly imagine. It's been so hard. You're trying to prepare for a game. There's a lot on your plate right now - for both Brian and myself, because we have not only the Leafs, but the Olympics.''
Looking drained, Wilson said Burke had texted team management for an update of the game against the Ottawa Senators, which the Leafs won in a rout, a 5-0 upset.
``We had a job to do tonight,'' Wilson said. ``And we tried to compartmentalize the whole situation as much as possible.''
Toronto was led by forward Phil Kessel
and defenceman Luke Schenn
, who each collected two goals and an assist. The loss snapped Ottawa's franchise-high 11-game win streak, handing the Senators their first loss since Jan. 12.
Leafs goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere became the first goaltender in franchise history to open his debut season with back-to-back shutout wins. He made 30 saves to win for the second game in a row since he was acquired in a trade with Anaheim Jan. 31. It was from that time spent in Anaheim _ on a team built by Brian Burke _ that left Giguere with some of the strongest ties to the game's most emotional moments.
``I think our goal here is to make sure that Burkie and his family don't have to worry about us,'' Giguere said. ``They have enough on their plate right now. It's hard enough as it is to lose somebody you love like this, and I can't even imagine a kid.''
Toronto players expressed sorrow for their general manager and his family, as did Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, who told reporters: ``I can't imagine the feelings their family is going through.''
Alfredsson seemed to be one of the channels through which the crowd was able to sneak back into the mood for hockey. It booed him lustily when he touched the puck in the first period, and seemed to grow even louder in the second as the Senators scrambled to regain their footing.
Ottawa stumbled early in Toronto. The Senators were called for five penalties in the first period, four of which resulted in power plays for the struggling Leafs. Kessel seized upon one to give the home side a 1-0 lead five minutes into the first period.
Schenn blasted a shot by Senators goaltender Brian Elliott to give the Leafs a 2-0 lead later in the period, and forward Tyler Bozak
scored 28 seconds later to build the three-goal advantage. Kessel and Schenn each added another goal, and Elliott was replaced at the beginning of the third period by Pascal Leclaire.
Wilson admired his team's focus.
``Having lost my dad and my mom when they were fairly young, I have a sense of what grief's all about,'' he said. ``The way you go through this, you can't believe it until you get closer to the funeral. Then it hits you, then you're kind of numb. And then, after a few numb days, then it all comes piling on.
``So we're going to be really strong for Brian. I'm really proud of our team.'' NOTES
: Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle, one of the few remaining links to the team's biggest games with the Senators, entered the game with more points against Ottawa than any of his teammates. The 31-year-old had 25 points in 59 career games against the Senators _ though only one of those points was a goal. . . Spezza established a franchise record when he scored in the eighth consecutive game on Feb. 4, a 3-1 win over Vancouver. . . Toronto and Ottawa will face each other just after the Olympic break, with the Senators at home on March 6.