Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
MLSE President Tim Leiweke talks about his pride for Brendan Shanahan, who he says with the Babcock signing proved he’s a great president.
via the Toronto Maple Leafs,
Brendan Shanahan, President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced today that Mike Babcock has been named the 30th head coach in the club’s history. Babcock, 52, joins the Leafs after serving as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings for the past 10 seasons.
babcock to Tor
8 years, maybe an out after five.
Front-loaded deal...high salary in first two years
May also have discussed Shanahan taking GM role, or Babcock/Shanahan having final say over personnel decisions.
from Jonas Siegel of TSN,
The organization is also going about its search in an unconventional manner at the urging of Shanahan, content to hire coach before general manager if need be. There’s also the prospect of the front office (save the general manager) already in place and the looming voice of Shanahan above whatever power said general manager will hold.
These are huge hires that need to align with Shanahan, his unconventional methods and philosophy and the patient build he intends for the club moving forward.
Such a future may or may not include the team’s current captain, long-time leading scorer and a flawed and financially-inflated core that flamed out once again in 2014-15. What will the Leafs opt to do with Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel, both of whom have pricey long-term contracts extending beyond 2020? And maybe more curiously, what can the club reap in potential trades involving the pair, not to mention other core assets like Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul?
Beyond the current roster lie future pieces. The Leafs have two first round selections – including the fourth overall pick – at the second draft of the Shanahan era next month. Last year the team selected promising Swedish talent William Nylander with the eighth overall pick. These two days in June are critical to an organization seeking to rebuild internally.
from David Alter of TorontoMapleLeafs.com,
In early December, the Maple Leafs made some to moves to shore up their player development. One of those was bringing in Darryl Belfry as a consultant.
Belfry’s specialty is working with some of hockey’s top talent to improve the way they tackle the game.
“During the year we track the clients and build the development model for them and to track what their success rates are in certain area,” said Belfry when he signed on. “In the off-season we now have a clear path as to what they are doing.”
With the Maple Leafs and Marlies regular season now complete, every prospect on the roster now has Belfry at their disposal.
As part of the build, Belfry’s methods will be put to the ultimate test. Players like Patrick Kane have sworn by his methods. In some ways, it’s the analytics of body movement.
“What I do is I analyze players’ game habits and then problem solve from a skill development prospective to open up new pathways for them to perform.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Brendan Shanahan’s ultra-secretive search for a general manager meanders on with a large portion of the hockey world left wondering exactly where the wealthiest team in the National Hockey League is headed.
Whatever the Shanaplan involves — and that seems to include the hiring or wooing of a Maple Leafs coach before he hires the next Leafs general manager — it does not centre around anything resembling conventional hockey thinking or order.
Clearly, Shanahan has chosen to look the other way on well-regarded general managers with winning records and impressive resumes. He passed on Peter Chiarelli, hired quickly by Bob Nicholson in Edmonton after being fired in Boston. He passed on Ray Shero, hired quickly by the experienced Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey, when Lamoriello was pushed upstairs. He hasn’t spoken to George McPhee, architect of the Washington Capitals.
Shanahan is doing things his way. Whether that’s the right way will be determined in time.
from Jonas Siegel of TSN,
... Jeff Blashill, hired a night before the draft that previous summer, was their first-year head coach. An assistant for nearly a decade in the U.S. college ranks, Blashill had never been a head coach before. Success came quick, as it did a few years later when he captured the Calder Cup in his very first season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Two championships in two leagues in his first four seasons behind a bench of any kind.
There will certainly be more experienced candidates for Brendan Shanahan and the Maple Leafs to pursue in their search for a new head coach – Mike Babcock, perhaps, above all – but if they want to look outside the box just a little, they'd be wise to consider the 41-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, currently coaching against the organization in the first round of the AHL playoffs.
"He doesn't have [NHL] experience, but if you look at his resume, he just wins," Skjodt said of Blashill in an interview. "Has he been a coach before in the NHL? No. But he's certainly ready. If there's anyone in this country that's ready right now, it'd be Jeff Blashill."
Blashill may just be next in a line of fresh faces to emerge onto the NHL landscape, a movement fronted at the moment by Jon Cooper, who hadn't coached a day in the league when Steve Yzerman promoted him to coach the Lightning a few years back.
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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