Report: Majority of Leafs' players relieved Babcock is gone; GM, coach relationship was not good

21 novembre 2019
According to James Mirtle of The Athletic, 90 percent of Toronto's players were relieved when it was announced Wednesday that Mike Babcock had been fired four and a half years into his eight year contract with the team. Mirtle also notes the fact that Babcock's statement to the media after getting fired thanks the owner of the Maple Leafs, as well as former GM Lou Lamoriello, who was there when Babcock was first hired. Noticeably absent were Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and current GM Kyle Dubas.

Mirtle states this all makes sense as Babcock had done a poor job of making allies the past few years.

"It was clear how Dubas felt, after the Leafs’ first-round exit (to Boston) in April, as he left his coach’s return wide open to speculation for nearly two weeks before giving a short statement to TSN’s Bob McKenzie that they were on the same page," Mirtle writes. "That was either reckless or intentional. I believe in Option 2."

According to Mirtle, Dubas wanted Babcock gone then, but there were more voices in play than just his own.

"He (Dubas) didn’t get what he obviously wanted, seven months ago, when he left Babcock twisting in the wind. Now, he did. This team — the roster, its identity, its coach — are all his. Now, it just needs to work."

"Looking back at this, all of it, it’s a bit of a mess. Dubas not endorsing Babcock in April didn’t exactly go unnoticed by the Leafs players, most of whom weren’t sad to see the coach go," Mirtle added in his column.

"Mike Babcock is a good coach. He is a Hall of Famer. He earned most of what he got, even if there were some breaks along the way mixed in. But he also has a short shelf life, with this generation of players, and an eight-year contract was never a great idea."

Taking over for Babcock is Sheldon Keefe, who had been coaching Toronto's AHL affilaite team, the Marlies. Dubas and Keefe have a long history. Dubas was GM of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds when he brought Keefe into the OHL as a coach in 2012. With Dubas as GM, and Keefe as coach, the Greyhounds accomplished several feats, including three consecutive playoff berths and the best record in franchise history in 2015-15, when Keefe was named CHL coach of the year. Dubas was also GM of the Toronto Marlies when he hired Keefe to coach there in 2015.

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