Kukla's Korner Hockey
Defenseman Cody Franson, who played almost four seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded in March, said Saturday that free agents, like himself, will find the team more attractive now that it's coached by Mike Babcock.
"I definitely think it makes [Toronto] more interesting," Franson told TSN 1050 Radio. "... Definitely, with Mr. Babcock going there, it's an exciting time for people in that organization and I think it makes it more intriguing to free agents for sure."
Franson will be a free agent July 1 after finishing the season with the Nashville Predators. He said he would like the chance to return to Toronto.
"One hundred percent; I've always said that I loved it in Toronto," the 27-year-old said. "... I'm hopeful that Toronto's in the mix come July 1 and my phone will definitely be on and hoping that they're one of the teams that calls."
Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly agrees that players would choose to sign with Toronto to play for Babcock, who was hired Wednesday.
"When you have a coach like Mike Babcock, your team improves automatically," Rielly told the Toronto Sun. "Players will want to come to play in Toronto and really embrace the role of playing for the Leafs. … We're happy to have him on board."
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
During the course of a casual conversation a few years back, Marc Crawford was asked if the impact of an NHL coach could be measured in wins and losses.
Turned out Crawford had given this subject some thought. Without a lot of hesitation, the veteran hockey man said: “It’s seven to eight points a season.”
So there you go, Leafs fans. Your team just paid $50 million for a new coach and, if everything goes right, they’ll improve from 68 to 76 points next season. Surely that must be worth three hours of discussion on the panel.
The Leafs, of course, have become the newest test case for one of hockey’s enduring questions: Does a coach really make that much of a difference? In signing Mike Babcock to a groundbreaking eight-year, $50-million deal, they certainly made coaches all over the NHL happy. But is Babcock the man who can end half a century of misery in The Big Smoke? Can he, through his mere presence, alter the course of this cursed franchise?
You have to admit, it’s a helluva question. We just wish we could give you a helluva answer.
Both teams were among the NHL’s worst this season and have a lot of questions to be answered. Today, you can’t accurately say either is absolutely on the right track, and in Toronto, Babcock has predicted “pain” for the near future. Both teams have owners who appear to be committed, but don’t have a track record of winning.
How they build and develop their respective organizations will determine whether the pieces they already have turn into anything at all, and whether Babcock made the right choice or blew it by choosing not to shuffle off to Buffalo.
-Damien Cox of Sportsnet on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. Read more on this topic from Cox.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Mike Babcock did nothing but win in Detroit. He won without high draft picks. He won without large free-agent signings. He won without all-star goaltending.
He won — or better put, the Red Wings won — partly because of elite talent such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg — and moreso because the organization under general manager Ken Holland understood and fostered player development in a way few franchises ever have.
The model is there for the Maple Leafs.
It is Holland’s model with Jimmy Devellano’s signature on it and a clear mandate from management and coaching: Every spot on a team is earned.
Every player is developed with a sense of patience and logic.
There is a clear and unwavering plan that never changes.
The kind of plan Brendan Shanahan keeps referencing without much explanation.
The model to follow is partly Detroit, partly Tampa Bay for Shanahan’s Maple Leafs. It is not coincidence that Steve Yzerman is running the Lightning. It is not coincidence that Jim Nill traded for Tyler Seguin in Dallas. It is not coincidence that Todd McLellan is the new coach of the Oilers and Jeff Blashill is likely the new coach in Detroit and Paul MacLean is a former coach of the year before he was let go in Ottawa.
All learned the Red Wing way. All became part of that family — and are still, in a way, part of that culture.
from the CP at TSN,
Mike Babcock took over as Toronto head coach Thursday, saying the Maple Leafs are Canada's team and they need to be put back on the map.
The 52-year-old Babcock, no stranger to coaching Team Canada, becomes the 30th head coach in Leafs' history.
Babcock said he was thrilled and excited to take the Toronto job. He cautioned the journey will be a long one, but promised it will be a lot of fun.
The former Detroit Red Wings coach takes over a 30-44-8 Leafs team that finished 27th in the league this season.
Babcock told the packed news conference in the foyer of the Air Canada Centre that he embraces the job ahead.
"I came here with my eyes wide open," he said.
Babcock made it clear that he is aware of the size of the task ahead and would have no problems operating in the fishbowl that surrounds the Leafs franchise.
"This is going to be a massive, massive challenge," he said.
added 1:23pm, Watch the full Babcock press conference below...
It is scheduled to begin at 11:00am ET but there may be some talk before the conference begins.
Watch below and you have three options...
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
When it comes to employment, most people have a salary in mind at which point the money becomes too much to turn down.
That's the simplest explanation for why Mike Babcock left a coaching job he loved with the Detroit Red Wings to become coach of a Toronto Maple Leafs team with myriad roster problems.
Several media outlets are reporting that Babcock, 52, will receive $50 million over eight seasons, with much of the deal front-loaded.
That $6.25 million average salary is more than three times what Babcock ($2 million) earned this season in Detroit, and it is more than twice the salary of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was the highest paid coach at $2.75 million per season.
Undoubtedly, Babcock, a proud Canadian, is intrigued by becoming the coach of one the NHL's most storied franchises and the challenge of helping team president Brendan Shanahan build a team that could win the team's first Stanley Cup since 1967.
from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press,
from Toronto Sports Media,
So, as we like to do when there is news, here’s what’s been written so far:
First from Toronto:
Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun doesn’t want the parade route planned yet: “There’s an old saying in horse racing: You can have the best trainer in the world, but without the horses, you’ve got nothing. Which is basically the situation with the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Steve Simmons finds the positive at least for the moment: “And for at least one day, one moment, everything seemed right with the rather uneven, historically dysfunctional Maple Leafs. Never mind the reality of their roster, or the fact the Leafs don’t have a general manager or a front-line centre. They have a coach. Richest one in the business. And darn, if that doesn’t taste like ice cream on a hot summer’s night.”
Bruce Arthur has a lengthy take on the new coach: There will be strains and tension, because Babcock is a furious competitor, and cannot love the idea of rebuilding; he’s 52 and wants to win more Stanley Cups. When asked if going to Toronto fit Babcock’s stated criteria for winning, Holland said, “That’s a question for Mike.””
Rosie lives up to her reputation with her take: “Social media — which I detest and which reflects nothing of import — was divided on Wednesday between over-the-moon and big deal, doesn’t change the dreadful on-ice equation one iota. Perhaps we’ve just forgotten how to feel good about anything. Nothing grand ever happens here. The sports gods don’t like us, grumble-grumble-grumble.
Be not so cynical. Mike Babcock is a game-changer. Losing will not rest easily on his shoulders. And though unquestionably there will be much losing to come, he will not allow it to rest easily on the shoulders of his players either.”
Coaching the Leafs will require an inordinate amount of patience, until the player talent matches the organization’s Stanley Cup ambitions. This then will be the ultimate test for Babcock who, 13 years and 950 games into his NHL coaching career, has never quite faced the challenge that Toronto will pose. There are not many coaches more competitive than Babcock. How he handles the challenge of those early dark days will be a sight to behold.
-Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail on Mike Babcock in Toronto. Read more on this topic.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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