Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Babcock Press Conference Review

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All the official business is done. Mike Babcock is the head coach – and only the head coach under title – and the Toronto Maple Leafs can move forward with the process.

“The process” was talked about extensively during the press conference – and that’s a great thing.

The worry among most people was whether or not Toronto was going to deviate from the plan and Brendan Shanahan, as well as Mike Babcock, made it pretty clear that they intend to remain on course.

“I’m looking forward to the process, the battle, the pain, the fun, the journey. It’s going to be a long one, but its going to be a lot of fun,” Babcock said in his opening remarks.

Right away he eased the anxiety of the fans. Well done, Mike.

Babcock and Shanahan talked extensively over the course of the press conference about how they were transparent and blunt with each other about the direction of the Maple Leafs during their few conversations.

As far as this deal being “all about the money”, well, that’s nonsense. He could have had the same money in Buffalo. Mike Babcock wanted to be the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So why Toronto then?

It came down to family, the commitment from the Maple Leafs to stick to their plan and perhaps the greatest troll comment he could have come up with:

“We need to put Canada’s team back on the map.”

In ten words Mike Babcock trolled six other cities and millions of people.

It’s not too often that you watch a press conference and don’t feel like you’ve been lied to at least a little, but Babcock and Shanahan pulled no punches. They didn’t sit there and pretend things will be better soon. They are fully aware that this “process” is going to take a while.

Of course, one reporter asked for Babcock’s thoughts on moving behind the bench of a perennial loser.

"“I never came here to make the playoffs. I came here to be involved in a Cup process. That goes from scouting, drafting, development, analytics. I love to win, I have a burning desire to win. But I also want to win in the end. We want to build a team off the ice and on the ice that the fans of the Maple Leafs can be proud of. We have to create an environment that’s safe for players.”"

That’s a pretty good answer – and it continues to drive home the fact that he’s on board with the course that Shanahan has set in motion for this franchise. That speaks as much about Babcock’s commitment as it does for Brendan Shanahan knowing what he’s doing. His coaching hire has full confidence in him – and he’s no rookie hockey mind.

Both Shanahan and Babcock also put to bed the claims from everyone in Buffalo that the Sabres were duped. Shanahan reiterated several times that the offer Babcock took was the same offer he initially discussed – and that there was no 11th hour swoop-in.

His answer probably didn’t satisfy the Sabres faithful that made the journey to Toronto for the press conference, but I highly doubt anyone in Toronto cares about how upset Buffalo may be. Mike Babcock simply wanted to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On a side takeaway, it sure seems like Mark Hunter had a major impact on Babcock’s decision. You could even make the case that he’s heading to the front of the line for the actual GM title. When the question came up about the potential of having a hands-on roster clause in his contract, Babcock had this to say:

“I have nothing in my contract about that. Hunts, Dubes and Shanny were committed to doing this. I understand what the process is and what your going to have to do to make it happen. Mark Hunter is a guy I have an absolute tonne of respect for. He gets players.”

If that’s not a glowing endorsement I don’t know what is.

Babcock and Shanahan said all the right things and today is a great day for Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

Honesty, transparency. There’s no hidden agenda. Things are looking up for the Leafs moving forward.

Next: More Babcock News

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