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Mike Babcock On The Hot Seat?

from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,

If Babcock doesn’t steer the Maple Leafs into round two on his third straight try, he’ll have found himself on the losing end of a playoff series for the eighth time in nine attempts. He hasn’t won a playoff series since the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign. He hasn’t won a playoff series in the wake of an actual 82-game season since 2011. And while it’s true that he’s coached a lot of underdogs, both here and in Detroit — given Babcock’s super-coach status, let’s just say he’s overdue to overachieve.

Don’t tell him that. When it comes to methodically building in excuses for failures to come, Babcock’s a natural PhD — piled higher and deeper. He’s fuelled the critique of his GM’s roster all season. The Leafs, he’s told us, aren’t “long” enough on the back end, don’t play “heavy” enough up front, haven’t endured enough “scars” from playoff failures, don’t have the requisite “depth” throughout. He had the gall to assess the timely acquisition of Jake Muzzin as “not perfect — it’s what we got. It’s what was available, and we’re going to make it work.”

But it’s beginning to occur to more than a few Maple Leafs — and it can’t have escaped Dubas’s notice — that there could be another reason why the Maple Leafs just under-delivered on the most anticipated regular season in franchise history. Why did the roster get better while the points in the standings got fewer? Why did the power play and penalty kill both suffer year-over-year dips? Why did Auston Matthews, the only Maple Leaf to offer anything approaching public criticism of the coach, flatline statistically? Why’d the Leafs overuse the stretch pass and over-pressure on D?

There’s a chance the catch-all answer is coaching.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+babcock

Comments

The Meal's avatar

$6.25 million through 2023.  They’ll probably keep him around.

Posted by The Meal from Firestone, CO on 04/08/19 at 10:33 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Grass isnt always greener, eh Babs?

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 04/08/19 at 11:48 AM ET

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Grass isnt always greener, eh Babs?

Yeah, he’s definitely kicking himself for leaving Detroit.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 04/08/19 at 01:36 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

With Nylander signed to a ridiculous $$$ deal ( nice work mr. Dubus…) and Marner expected to want Matthews type $$$ and zero cap space to go along with a defense not a whole lot better than the Wings….one might wonder why one would want to still be the leafs coach next year???

Leaf fans delusional beliefs and the Toronto media will Always be the death of the head coach in Toronto. I’m shocked it took this long. I expected this 2 years ago ..... confused

Posted by Down River Dan on 04/08/19 at 02:22 PM ET

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.one might wonder why one would want to still be the leafs coach next year???

Well the 3 players you mentioned specifically are good place to start

Posted by godblender on 04/08/19 at 02:58 PM ET

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Toronto media and fans can’t stop riding that rollercoaster of hype and recrimination.

They are what NYC used to be celebrities: build up, tear down, praise, savage, everything under the spotlight.

Toronto media and fans are so compulsive and obnoxious.

I love the passion and intensity of Canadian hockey cities but this isn’t fun.
It’s almost pathological.

Posted by lefty.30 on 04/08/19 at 04:39 PM ET

d ca's avatar

If the Leafs lose in the 1st round, I don’t know what the organization does as 6.25 is a drop in the bucket there.

But if you are given that team expectations need to be at a conference championship series if not a cup run.

See they hold coaches accountable elsewhere. Dave Lewis was the last one that was held accountable here.

Posted by d ca on 04/08/19 at 10:25 PM ET

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I think, unless Toronto gets swept in the playoffs, Babcock gets at least one more year to push things further.

The imbalanced roster is going to kill them. Maybe they shouldn’t have chased after Tavares. They have to get defense from somewhere if they are going to get to the next level.

Posted by evileye on 04/09/19 at 12:12 PM ET

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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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