With the blockbuster news that Mike Babcock has been fired by the Maple Leafs this afternoon, the second part of this blog series has taken a significant turn.
I know for some this news is shocking and for others is upsetting at best. But if you had been tracking this team the last three seasons, Babcock’s firing is a death of a thousand cuts. I want to make it clear, Mike Babcock is a good coach and served a valuable purpose when he first arrived to set the bar for what a winning and professional organization looks like.
His work with his eventual replacement Sheldon Keefe can’t be understated or not acknowledged. He set the footprint up and down the organization to set a standard of play that would translate from the Marlies to the Maple Leafs.
His template, and Keefe’s execution with the Marlies was pivotal in the ease and speed to which players coming up in the Leafs system were able to integrate and excel so quickly.
However the Leafs fortunes last season and in the first quarter of this season left much to be desired. As I had mentioned in part one, his deployment of ice time was at times suspect. Benchings and having players sit in the press box weren’t always done across the board.
For a coach who was big on accountability, it sure lacked at times with players who were his favorites. Another area which had a lot of heads scratching was his deployment of the goalies, his insistence on playing the back-up on the second of back to backs at different parts this season may have come at the expense of gaining important points to start the season.
There were other suspect decisions in game like over playing his 3rd and 4th lines at least optum time when having either the Matthews’ or Tavares’ lines may have been the better option.
I know for some his flippidness and backhanded comments regarding players and any critism of him was the icing on the cake for those that wanted him gone already. With Mike Babcock, it was never going to be one thing or another that would mark his undoing, but more layer after layer of decisions and stubbornness that impacted the decision made today.
In closing, today isn’t a joyous day as a good man lost his job. What it does mark is a reset for a very talented team who may have arrived to a point of needing a new messenger to get them going again.