The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a very productive offseason.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have unburdened themselves of 100% of their salary cap troubles, and all it cost them was a single first-round draft pick, which they don’t even really need because their roster is stacked and they’ve got a ton of great prospects, and have proven adept at finding gems in later rounds.
They made a great trade to add Alex Kerfoot and rent Tyson Barrie.
Kyle Dubas is basically pitching a perfect game, there’s just one mistake he has made.
He didn’t fire Mike Babcock when he had the chance.
Dubas and Babcock
Mike Babock was the biggest reason the Leafs lost to the Bruins in the playoffs this year. He over-played Marleau and Hainsey. He was brutal at pulling the goalie. The ice time allotted to his best players didn’t make any sense.
Previously seen by fans as infallible, the shine is off of Mike Babcock.
Does anyone really think this is going to work?
Do the current Toronto Maple Leafs look anything at all like a Mike Babcock team?
Dubas fired his assistants.
Then he traded (or let leave) Hainsey, Zaitsev, Brown, Marleau and Kadri.
Last year, when gifted with the best puck possession defenseman of his generation, Babcock made un-subtle digs about it to the media.
He constantly seemed – whenever in front of a camera – to be trolling his boss.
Perhaps Babcock can change. Perhaps he can stop it with the breakouts around the glass, and the constant home-run pass attempts. Maybe he can coach an all-skill team and buy into the vision the rest of the organization has bought into.
But it doesn’t seem like it.
The Leafs have a coach in waiting (Sheldon Keefe). The GM is taking some extremely bold and aggressive risks in building the team he envisions.
He should have a coach to properly execute that vision.
Maybe I am wrong, and maybe after meeting this summer Babcock has bought in and seen which way the wind is blowing.
But other than the Toronto Maple Leafs choosing to retain him, we’ve seen no evidence of that.
We have seen the team go about 100 more miles in the opposite direction of what people think of when they think of a “Mike Babcock Team.”
I think ultimately the Leafs would be better off with a coach whose vision is in alignment with the GM’s. I think Kyle Dubas has made some excellent moves this summer so far – but retaining Babcock is going to prove to be his biggest mistake.