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On NBC Hiring Mike Babcock

from Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail,

Babcock, of course, was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs 23 games into the 2019-20 season and then found himself tarred and feathered when former players suddenly began breaking hockey’s code of omerta, speaking out about the psychological abuse they had suffered at his hands. Mitch Marner and Chris Chelios shared stories of Babcock’s toxic head games; Johan Franzen said his former Red Wings boss, while being an “extremely accurate and prepared” coach, was also “a terrible person, the worst person I’ve ever met.”

(Translation: He’s no Doc Emrick.)

Nevertheless, Flood told reporters that, after Babcock “reached out to us through representation during the playoffs last year,” NBC almost brought him on board at that time. “But because of COVID protocols … we decided to wait until this year.”

Flood revealed that he had met Babcock in 2006 through the analyst Pierre McGuire, who was working for TSN at the time. “Pierre and I would go to Mike’s office before the many Detroit games we produced, and we would sit in that little office of his and have a conversation about hockey and about life. And he was a fascinating, insightful man,” Flood said. “And I thank Pierre for creating a relationship and getting me into that office all those years ago. And those are the moments that reveal who you want to have on your team. And Mike was a fascinating guy to spend time with, and I think he’ll be a great addition.”...

Nobody is suggesting that Babcock be cancelled. (There’s no real threat of that, anyway: last fall, before he signed with NBC, he interviewed for the Washington Capitals’ head-coaching job.) But reputational rehabilitation is supposed to begin with acknowledging what you’ve done; then you make amends, if those you’ve wronged are interested. But until you clear the air, your ugly past is going to hang over everything you do, like the cloud of dust and bugs that follows poor Pig-Pen in the Peanuts cartoon.

NBC may have thought it was playing enforcer for its new hire on Monday. But nobody wants to drop the gloves with the network or with Babcock. We just need him to finally, fully – and publicly – address the issue of his past behaviour, so we can all get on with the business of listening to what he has to say about hockey.


Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink


TreKronor's avatar

I was listening to an interview with Osgood the other day, they asked him about Babs.  Osgood said Babs had his issues, but everyone who coaches has issues…everyone in the world has issues.  Ozzie said Babcock made him a better goalie and a better competitor, and pushed him to be the best he could be.  He said he played longer than he would have otherwise because of how Babcock pushed him. 

It was an interesting different take from someone who played for him.  He was blunt and didn’t let emotions get in the way.  Actually, I really enjoyed hearing Ozzie talk unfiltered because the guy is realistic and down to earth in general.  It’s a good listen if you skip to the part where he starts talking, 5 or 10 minutes in: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/dir-z2sea-b969bd6?utm_campaign=w_share_ep&utm_medium=dlink&utm_source=w_share

Posted by TreKronor on 01/12/21 at 09:08 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

No, he doesn’t have to apologize/address publicly.  He was let go because he lost the locker room, that and the fickle nature of Toronto management when it comes to losing streaks.  Sure this happened during the apogee of the #MeToo movement, but he didn’t sexually assault anyone—he was just a hard-nosed GM’s coach with a tendency to be an massive *#$%@& to some players.  That can be part of the job description. 

I just hope he doesn’t try to smile while on air, that shit is terrifying.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 01/12/21 at 01:08 PM ET


The real juice behind the marner story was after that junior player came out Bill Peters dropping the N word to him like it was an everday adjective when telling him to turn his music off.  Before this Peters was always referred to as a product of Babcock which made some people wonder what other private conversations must be like.  Right or wrong, it wasnt just the babcock story but the people he brought up too.

Posted by ThatGuy on 01/12/21 at 01:46 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Good for Babcock. I always thought he was a good coach. He had his issues, but don’t we all? tongue laugh

Posted by bigfrog on 01/12/21 at 04:11 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I just hope he doesn’t try to smile while on air, that shit is terrifying.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 01/12/21 at 01:08 PM ET

Man, I can’t wait to hear Babblecock at the intermissions.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 01/12/21 at 05:59 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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