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BABCOCK ON HIS NHL EXPLOITS IN FIRST LIVE INTERVIEW SINCE FIRING: 'NONE OF US ARE PERFECT'

Feb 23, 2021 à 17h11      MIKE ARMENTI
Veteran coach Mike Babcock made headlines this past week when he signed on to coach the University of Saskatchewan Huskies back in his home province, citing family as his biggest reason for pursuing the opportunity.

This week, Babcock, 57, took part in an interview on The Rod Pederson Show on Tuesday, his first official live interview since being relieved of his coaching duties by the same Toronto Maple Leafs team that signed him to an 8-year, $50M way back in the spring of 2015.

Of all the things that Babcock wants people to take away from his tenure as an NHL coach, especially during, but not limited to, his time with the Leafs is that everyone makes mistakes and that the mistakes don't define the quality of the human being.

Babcock has certainly made his fair share of mistakes while behind the bench and in the locker room, especially regarding his treatment of veterans like Johan Franzen, Chris Chelios, Mike Modano, Jason Spezza, but also in his dealings with younger players such as Mitch Marner and the infamous "list" debacle.

Maybe it's the level of impact Babcock's actions have had on those on the receiving end, or perhaps, as Babcock would suggest, the media never lets the past stay dead. Either way, one thing is for certain. Babcock's image is not what it once was, and moving home to Saskatchewan is one thing that Babcock hopes can help rehabilitate that image.

"Have you ever said anything to your wife you'd like to get back?" Babcock asked, hoping that his metaphor could help the listeners to relate.

"You know when you're reaching out and you're trying to get things back? My oldest girl would always say to me: 'Dad, it's not what you say. It's your tone.' We've all made mistakes in our life. You have to own everything you've done wrong I think that's really important. But I also think your intention is so important," Babcock continued.

"You can't have the wife I have and the kids I have and the family I have without being a good human being. I don't have any problem with that whatsoever. I always said to people when I went to Toronto, 'I got half my salary for coaching the team and half my salary for getting whacked.'"

Babcock has been the subject of much criticism throughout his career but prior to his termination in November of 2019, Babcock had never been fired by an NHL club. As you may recall, the aftermath of the whole ordeal was chock-full of insults being slung in Babcock's direction, but the bench boss didn't take things personally.. at least not at first. It was quite the contrary in the beginning, but as time has gone on, Babcock has grown weary of the constant barrage of attacks. How about that? Even Mike Babcock is not immune to feelings.

«When I got fired in Toronto, we went all-in on the entertainment,» Babcock said. «But after a while, you get tired of hearing some of the things. I think it's important you get to say your piece.

«None of us are perfect. We're all trying to get better.»

The veteran bench boss got by mostly by doing his best to ignore the media over the last year-and-change. He also held onto the fact that, at least at one point, the people he chose to do business with valued what he had brought to the table, as unconventional as his methods could be at times.

«I'm not a big media guy, following what's going on. You know if you're getting whacked or not. You also know in today's world, the way it is, even the people that really value you, it's hard for them to step up just because they're going to get whacked. I know who I am. I know what I've done. Some of this doesn't pass the smell test at all,» he remarked.

«It's just common sense. When you look at my career, I've always been hired by people who knew me. It's not like we had a Zoom meeting.»

Babcock had strong ties to each of Jim Nill, Ken Holland, Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and the late Bryan Murray, all of whom had a lot of respect for him for various reasons, but each of them, at points, trusted that Babcock was the right man for the job. But now, it's U of S Huskies chief athletic officer Dave Hardy believes that Babcock is the right man for the job back in his home province of Saskatchewan.

When asked how the whole thing came about, Babcock first reaffirmed that his plans did not extend past this season, and that grooming an assistant coach of his choosing to take over once he leaves is his main focus. It was quite obvious Babs is hinting at an eventual return to the NHL. His subsequent response was very family-heavy, backing up his original claims as his primary reasoning for taking the job in the first place, but also confessing his love for coaching collegiate hockey.

«It was the first thing that come our way that my wife didn't kinda give me the Heisman for,» Babcock quipped.

«My wife's got two brothers, two sisters in the area and, probably most importantly, her mom and dad. They're 90 and 87, in great health and got a 65-year love affair going on. We figured we could join in on all that. Plus, get back to coaching college, which I absolutely loved.

«We're excited. My older sister who doesn't live there just texted me the other day and said she might move back for the winter just to watch Dog hockey.»

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