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Entries with the tag: mike babcock

Mike Babcock’s Way Of Coaching

from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,

Babcock long has taken a bashing on Twitter from former NHL player Mike Commodore, who has major issues with the way the coach treated him in Detroit.

A series of measured tweets on Saturday by former NHL defenceman Mark Fraser defended Commodore, with Fraser saying that based on his conversations and stories related to him “95%” of Babcock’s players “can’t say a good thing about” him. Fraser also tweeted that Babcock “used his power to turn teammates against each other.”

One tale was related to us in the past few days that is said to have occurred in the 2016-17 season, during the annual fathers trip.

Babcock was alleged to have asked one of the Leafs’ rookies to list the players on the team from hardest-working to those who, in the eyes of the rookie, didn’t have a strong work ethic. The rookie did so, not wanting to upset his coach, but was taken aback when Babcock told the players who had been listed at the bottom.

When Babcock scratched veteran Jason Spezza for the regular-season opener, a decision that was unnecessary and disrespectful, we received an e-mail from a long-time NHL observer wondering why Babcock would deliberately embarrass Spezza.

more on the Leafs...

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Mike Babcock’s Next Move Plus More Hockey Topics

from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,

A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and less so, and rolling four lines deep. Sheldon Keefe gave us the freedom to let our skill take over this week’s column.

1. My gut response regarding the future of Mike Babcock was something along the lines of: “Oh, he’ll be back in the NHL in no time. Coaching is in his blood. Regardless of if he lost the Maple Leafs room after four years, some GMs won’t be able to resist all those rings and medallions.”

Digging a little deeper, Babcock’s whopper of a contract — his record-setting $5.875 million annual salary is guaranteed through June 30, 2023 — stands as quite the roadblock.

The NHL’s priciest bench buyout is getting paid more to not coach than anyone in the NHL is getting paid to coach (Florida’s Joel Quenneville is the runner-up at $5.25 million).

We’re not quite into Roberto “My Contract Sucks” Luongo territory here, but escaping the outstanding debt owed to Babcock will be tricky business for MLSE.

I rang up Neil Glasberg of PBI Sports & Entertainment. He’s a professional negotiator and personal-brand manager who represents 40-plus coaches (but not Babcock) at the NHL and AHL levels.

Ten times he’s facilitated a coach’s contract swap from one GM to another, perhaps most memorably John Tortorella’s from Vancouver to Columbus.

NHL coach-employment agreements include a “right of offset,” a rule that forbids double-dipping of any sort.

continued plus more topics...

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All Your Mike Babcock Articles And Videos In One Place

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

Mike Babcock had to coach better. It really is that simple.

And Kyle Dubas had to manage better. And the Maple Leafs players — especially the high-priced help — had to play better.

This has been a collective collapse, this dismal Maple Leafs s

eason so far. A collapse that wound up costing Babcock his job in his fifth year as the highest-paid coach in hockey. The firing wasn’t really a surprise. The surprise was it didn’t happen last June when it probably should have.


Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,

If Mike Babcock had an idea he was about to be fired, he hid it well.

Babcock was upbeat after the Maple Leafs practised on Wednesday, making jokes with reporters at Coyotes Ice Den. And there was enthusiasm from the players during the on-ice workout — casual observers wouldn’t have known the club had lost six in a row.

About an hour after Babcock’s scrum ended, he was told by team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas his services were no longer required.


More below...

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Mike Babcock Done In Toronto

added 4:47pm,



added 4:49pm, The Leafs still owe him some money.

added 5:10pm, Mike Babcock statement below.

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Mike Babcock Knows The Pressure Is On

from the CP at Sportnet,

Mike Babcock is aware his seat will be a little warmer than usual this season.

And if things don’t go according to plan for the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it could get positively scalding.

That’s life behind the bench of a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, a talent-loaded roster and three straight first-round playoff exits.

"I do, for sure," Babcock said when asked if he feels the screws tightening as training camp opened this week. "The expectation each and every year should be greater than the previous year if you’re going in the right direction."


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Will We See A Different Mike Babcock?

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

The tightrope walk for Mike Babcock as coach of the Maple Leafs has already begun.

He is metaphorically wobbling as training camp is about to begin, trying to remain stable with a new coaching staff around him, trying to remain balanced with so many comfort zone players removed from his roster, trying to focus on his team and its goals with full knowledge there is a front office split of sorts on his present and his future.

There isn’t consensus around the Leafs that Babcock should still be the coach. Publicly, they will smile, the way general manager Kyle Dubas smiled the other day, saying he tripped over his words at the end of last season when not being certain about Babcock’s return, but the fact of the matter is not so definitive.

Management wants to see a different Babcock this coming season. He knows that. He’s had to adjust before. He’s had to grow on the job before. He’s capable of doing that so long as he defeats his long-time penchant for stubbornness along the way.


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Mike Babcock Will Return As Toronto’s Coach

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Video- Elliotte Friedman On The Status Of Mike Babcock

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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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Mike Babcock On His Relationship With Kyle Dubas


added 12:37pm,

added 12:57pm, Video of Babcock speaking below.

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Afternoon Line- Mike Babcock



added 2:16pm, below, watch Babcock after practice today.

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Mike Babcock’s Coaching Style

from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,

“He is difficult,” Zetterberg said of Babcock, this while speaking to Detroit sportswriter Gregg Krupa. “He found a way to push me into an ‘I’m going to show you’ kind of thing. Not everyone, I think, can handle it.”

The gist of that quotation was recited to Babcock after Friday’s Maple Leafs practice. He was asked why he chooses that particular method to motivate players.

“I don’t think I do, actually,” Babcock said.

Perhaps there’s a disconnect, then, between the perceptions of Babcock’s players and Babcock’s perception of his own ways. When Zetterberg’s quote was repeated to longtime Leafs centreman Nazem Kadri, he smiled and nodded in recognition.

“I can definitely relate to that, for sure,” Kadri said. “Me and Babs have a pretty good relationship in terms of how things go. He’s able to push those buttons and me kind of respond and want to throw it in his face a little bit.”

Ditto Morgan Rielly.


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Battle Brewing In Toronto?

from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star,

He had a mere six shifts in the second period, with a total of 4:05 in ice time. For one interlude of more than five minutes, Matthews didn’t come over the boards at all. Little wonder he failed to get a shot on net in that frame.

Granted, the Leafs were killing off a penalty during a patch of that spell, but it’s hard to reckon what Babcock was thinking because he certainly didn’t maximize his No. 1 centre’s talents. And still Matthews led the Leafs with four shots and twice as many chances.

Matthews did not look like a happy young man on the bench, though that’s a subjective interpretation of body language. We can’t lip-read words exchanged between them. Babcock’s shift of fluid faith to the Mitch Marner line was conspicuous, however. Understandably so as Marner displayed a kinetic ferocity throughout the series....

If there is any breach of faith between Babcock and Matthews, it must be mended. If Babcock “lost” Matthews, he damn well better find him again.

“No,” insisted Matthews, when the question was put to him bluntly on clean-out day at the Air Canada Centre. “Our relationship’s fine. Obviously you guys can speculate all you want. But to me, I think it’s pointless.”


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Mike Babcock In The Moment

via Lance Hornby tweets,

Babcock on maybe setting TML franchise win record Monday: “I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. You do that after the season and after your career. One time, I’d won something and was sitting by the lakeside fireplace having a rum, my Dad was having a Scotch ... "

" ... I said things are going pretty good, kind of tooting my own horn and he said ‘when was that again'? In other words, what’s coming next?”

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Videos- Mike Babcock Disappointed In Toronto’s Performance In The Stadium Series Game

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

Plan overboard!

Mike Babcock must have looked at the deep blue sea depicted under the Maple Leafs bench and felt like tossing whatever notes he made on containing the Washington Capitals right into the drink.

“They got on us, we didn’t execute like we go through and we didn’t have many good players,” coach Babcock said.

So after two storybook outdoor games, winning by shootout and overtime, Toronto was dead in the water at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Hoping to give a strong account against a playoff foe on the big stage — a replica aircraft carrier around the rink — they were swallowed 5-2 in a red, white and blue barrage.

“It’s unfortunate,” Babcock added. “In life you only get so many opportunities and you want these to be positive memories. We knew who we were playing (the team that beat Toronto in the playoffs last year). We knew it was a big night and they look at us and still think we’re kids. And we looked like we were kids tonight. They smacked us around pretty good. You have to give them credit.”


Below, watch the game highlights and Babcock's post-game press conference.

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Mike Babcock, ‘The Decider’

From NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger:

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on Wednesday responded to the second guessing of his recent roster and lineup tactics.

"This is how I look at it: They hired me to decide," Babcock sternly told reporters after practice. "You get to decide what you react to. If you let the noise get in the way … can you imagine if every time someone in your life told you that you couldn't do it, you listened to them? Where would you be?"

The Maple Leafs (25-17-4) are third in the Atlantic, 11 points ahead of the fourth-place Detroit Red Wings, who have two games in hand, for the final guaranteed Stanley Cup Playoff berth from the division. But Toronto hasn't won in regulation since defeating the Arizona Coyotes 7-4 on Dec. 28.

Toronto is 2-3-3 since then, with the two wins each in a shootout. After a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday ended a six-game homestand 2-2-2, fans and media voiced concerns.


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Video- When Coaches Get Mad

Paul Maurice after a coach's challenge, Mike Babcock with a too many men on the ice call.


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A Sit Down With Ray Shero And Mike Babcock

from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic,

On Wednesday morning, ahead of Shero’s Devils taking on Babcock’s Maple Leafs, the two caught up in the stands at the Air Canada Centre, and allowed me to hang out for it.

They began their conversation asking other about each other’s families before the conversation shifted to hockey, specifically what it’s like to break into the NHL as a rookie head coach when you’re not a former player:

SHERO: I talked to (Devils head coach) John Hynes about that. I said to him, you want to earn the veterans’ respect but you don’t want to overdo it. I had told him the story about Mike Babcock and his first year in Anaheim as a rookie coach in the NHL and how he handled some of the veterans.

BABCOCK (smiling): They were mad right away. But you know what, I say to coaches all the time, when you first arrive in the NHL, the No. 1 thing has to be confidence. When you walk in the room, they got to know. Now, if you’ve played in the NHL for 15 years, you’ve got a better resume than us guys. No matter how much winning, even if you’re a serial winner, you haven’t been in the league. They don’t care. If you didn’t play in the NHL, you didn’t play hockey.

SHERO: After we talked about Tony Granato that year, you also called me about John Hynes. I remember saying, ‘The guy in Wilkes-Barre?’ And you said, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘How do you know him?’ And you said, ‘I don’t. But everyone I speak with tells me he’s a guy I should get to know.’ 

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Afternoon Line- Mike Babcock On Nicklas Backstrom

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Mike Babcock At His Best

from Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated,

Twenty-four years ago, a jut-jawed young man followed these same roads into town, accompanied by his wife and newborn daughter. He bought a brand-new house across Whoop-Up Drive, not far from the local rink where he had accepted a job to revive the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s hockey team. Early on, the decision looked disastrous. One night in Sept. 1994, not long after the family arrived, a 30-year-old Mike Babcock came home from the first preseason meeting and declared, “This might be the last time I ever coach.”

It seems ridiculous, of course, imagining a world in which Babcock never stalked and glowered behind NHL benches for 1,114 games and almost 600 victories; never won two Olympic gold medals and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey while helming Team Canada; never lifted the 2008 Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. Soon he’ll likely finish as a Jack Adams Trophy finalist too, if not its eventual winner, for steering a rookie-laden Toronto Maple Leafs roster from 30th place last season to the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed this spring—the first worst-to-playoffs reversal since Philadelphia in 2007-08. But in thinking his coaching career might’ve reached an early end, Babcock was gravely serious. This makes what actually happened that much more magical.

Over the next seven months, Babcock engineered perhaps the unlikeliest success story in Canadian college hockey history. It was a season deserving of a Disney film—provided screenwriters could work all the flaming liquor shots and F-bombs into a family friendly script. The championship rings referencing testicular fortitude would probably need some tweaking, too.

By the following summer, one of the smallest schools in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union (enrollment 4,350) had captured its first, and still only, national title; a program had been rescued from extinction; and Babcock was ascending toward the NHL, off from the hitching post toward bigger things. Even now, as the Maple Leafs begin their first-round trial against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals on Thursday, Babcock traces his proudest accomplishment back to the 1993-94 Lethbridge Pronghorns.

“The best job I’ve ever done,” he says. “By far. Not even close.”


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Afternoon Line- Mike Babcock

“I don’t care when you peak or any of that stuff, I just want to get in the playoffs to give ourselves a chance.

“We’re playing better right now and finding a way to win games and that’s what we have to continue to do. Last year, I didn’t look at the standings one time (when the Leafs finished 30th overall in the National Hockey League) and now I look at it every single day. Obviously, there must be a reason to look at them.”

-Mike Babcock, head coach of the Toronton Maple Leafs.  Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun has more.

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Claude Julien Should Send A Thank You Note To Mike Babcock

feom Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

Claude Julien owes a tip of the cap and maybe a whole lot more than that to his friend, Mike Babcock, for the $25-million deal he just signed with the Montreal Canadiens.

And he’s not alone in the coaching fraternity.

When Babcock left the Detroit Red Wings for Toronto, he did so with more than one intent in mind. He wanted to change the salary structure for the head coach in hockey. He wanted it more in line with what coaches are paid in the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball. He wanted to be the difference maker — not just behind the bench — and he did considerable research to establish a new paygrade for a coach in the National Hockey League.

Babcock is paid $6.25-million US salary per season with the Leafs and in signing that deal, he absolutely obliterated the previous marks. And with it has come a difference. 

continued plus a few NHL topics...

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Morning Line- Mike Babcock

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“Let’s Take A Deep Breath Here”

Mike Babcock...

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Mike Babcock Is In Charge

from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,

A group of Canada’s finest hockey coaches go for a bike ride.

Mike Babcock has urged them into the streets of Ottawa, lining up rentals from a local shop in an effort to give his staff a little breather from their World Cup of Hockey preparations. They end up riding three straight days during training camp, taking a route that winds along the city’s picturesque canal while “competing” for a yellow jacket.

“We saw the whole town,” said Babcock. “Beautiful.”

The group of seven – Babcock, assistants Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien, Barry Trotz and Bill Peters, plus goaltending coach Stephane Waite and video coach Andrew Brewer – later decide to cycle again after travelling to Pittsburgh for Team Canada’s final pre-tournament game.

Julien manages to pick up a yellow bike jersey emblazoned with a large photo of the city’s skyline to playfully denote himself the leader of the Tour de Pittsburgh, but no one in the travelling party has any illusions about who is actually setting the pace out front.

This is Babcock’s show and Babcock’s team.


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All Mike Babcock

from Kevin Mitchell of PostMedia Network/Toronto Sun,

Q: You say you want to be the best coach of your generation. What more do you need to do to get there? Do you think you’re there now?

Obviously, Joel Quenneville’s doing a heckuva job, too. There’s lots of good coaches, guys who make it hard on you, and that’s why you’ve got to keep grinding. I get to work with (Quenneville), Trotsy (Barry Trotz), Claude Julien and Bill Peters at this World Cup, and to me, being the best at what you do is embracing lifelong learning and getting better every day. Some people would think that’s a burden. To me, that’s where the joy is. That’s where the fun is. It’s what makes life good.

Q: You obviously took on a big challenge with the Leafs. Is it safe to say you’d cement that legacy, if you turn things around in Toronto?

It’s not if. It’s when. The second thing I’d say is yes — the Leafs opportunity is a big, big challenge. But we’re going to make it happen. It’s a great city, an unbelievable hockey market. And now we have to get the hockey team back to its rightful place.


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Brendan Shanahan’s plan for the Leafs in progress

From the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle:

Two years after Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment made a controversial bet on Shanahan – who had never worked for an NHL team in any capacity – what he will say is that he feels the Leafs are ahead of where he expected them to be.

He has a top coach in Mike Babcock, with a Stanley Cup and Olympic-gold pedigree. He has an experienced general manager in his 73-year-old mentor Lou Lamoriello, working on transactions. He has an up-and-coming executive in Kyle Dubas, managing the minor leagues (where the Toronto Marlies finished at the top of the standings), a renowned bird dog in director of player personnel in Mark Hunter and a cap guru in Brandon Pridham.

After the weekend, Shanahan also has 18-year-old wunderkind Auston Matthews, the projected star centre the Leafs selected first overall at the entry draft in Buffalo.

It’s a start.

“I had an idea before I even accepted the job of what needed to happen in Toronto,” Shanahan said in a wide-ranging conversation with The Globe and Mail about the rebuild the Leaf organization is undergoing. “But because I’ve gotten support [from ownership], things have fallen into place a little bit quicker. Other people have bought into it and come aboard.

“In each of my [hiring] meetings – whether it’s been with Mike Babcock or Lou Lamoriello or Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter, Brandon Pridham – my approach has been honesty. ‘This is who we are. We need your help. We have a long way to go.’ But I like some of the early signs. And we’ve had some luck, obviously, with the lottery draft. It was nice to have a little bit of luck on our side, as well.”


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The Leafs Are “Trending In The Right Direction”

from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,

“It’s been a good week for the Leafs,” Babcock said Tuesday. “We’re in a way better situation than we were a year ago — night-and-day different.

“We’re excited about it. Our minor-league team is in the second round, got a lot of real good players who are going to play in the NHL for a long, long time. We’ve got good players in junior. We have lots of draft picks this year. We plan on having a real strong draft. That sets us up.

“The real good teams end up with 10-year runs. That’s what we’re hoping to do. It will take us some time to get where we want to be, but we’re obviously trending in the right direction.”...

“I don’t know if we’re going to have a better record or not, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it,” Babcock said. “What I worry about is the process.

“We’re going to have much better players. They’re going to be way younger, but they’ll be way better players with much bigger upside. We’re going to be more fun to watch. If we stick with the process, we’ve got a chance to be better than we were last year, which isn’t saying much, but still trending in the right direction. That’s the key.”


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Videos- Mike Babcock Feels The Toronto Maple Leafs Were “Ripped Off” Last Night

from the CP at TSN,

The steam was still oozing off Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock in the moments after the team's 20th loss in the past 25 games.

Babcock was furious with the officiating in a 2-1 Thursday defeat to the Minnesota Wild at the Air Canada Centre. The Wild scored both goals on the power play, including the winner from Mikael Granlund with Leo Komarov in the penalty box.

"I thought we got ripped off big time today," Babcock said. "I don't get it. It makes no sense to me. The other thing I know is the people didn't pay to watch (the officials) play, they pay to watch the players."


Below, watch Mike Babcock post-game plus the penalty call on Komarov...

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1000 NHL Games Coached By Mike Babcock

from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,

So that’s 50 out of 1,000 games with the Leafs, and given that only four coaches all time — Al Arbour, Billy Reay, Lindy Ruff and Barry Trotz — have ever coached 1,000 games with one team, it’s hard to imagine at this point No. 2,000 will come in Toronto.

If it did, it would come 66 games into the 2028-29 season, when Babcock will be 65 years old. He wasn’t quite willing to project that far into the future when asked if he’s got another 1,000 games in him.

“Well, I’ve got this year and seven more, and then I’m gonna stay for two more after that because the team’s going to be that good,” he said.

He said it without irony, without a smile, almost enough to make you believe him. If you’re a Leafs fan, it seems a safe bet that if Babcock’s still around after another nine years, the team will have ended it’s Stanley Cup drought.


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A Driven Mike Babcock

from the CP at TSN,

The fire by Emma Lake crackled as a jubilant Mike Babcock sipped a drink alongside his father.

It was the summer of 2010 and Babcock was back in Saskatchewan, revelling for a moment in his recent success, which included his first Olympic gold medal at the Vancouver Games and a Stanley Cup championship in 2008.

"You know Dad, things are going pretty good," Babcock recalled telling Mike Babcock Sr., who died last March at the age of 78.

The father reminded his son that the success was already in the past. The message was clear: it was time to move on.

"It was over with," Babcock said Wednesday, reflecting on that day nearly six years ago.

The chase for more is what drives Babcock, who will become the 25th man in NHL history to coach 1,000 games when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

It's all about what's next for the 52-year-old from Saskatoon, who owns victories at the world junior championship, the world hockey championship, and Canadian university circuit to go along with two Olympic golds and one Stanley Cup.


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Mike Babcock’s First Season With The Toronto Maple Leafs

from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,

“Our challenge as a coaching staff — we’ve got to get ’em to play better,” Babcock told reporters after Monday’s practice. “I think when you evaluate the coaching you can give them a pretty hard mark.”

For Babcock to admit that he and his staff haven’t made grade-A-worthy impact amounts to the very definition of pain; he wants to win every night, every period, every shift. Still, for a Leaf fan-base convinced the organization’s depth chart still needs to be further stocked with elite draft picks, the underwhelming results are a lottery-friendly recipe for progress.

Certainly they are a big reason why almost nobody seems upset about the ongoing struggles of the blue and white. The long-palpable angst of Leafs Nation has turned, in some ways, to apathy. There’s a feeling the club is in good hands. But as for the day when those good hands will be held accountable for their deeds — well, it remains a long way off. Last month Babcock started talking about a “10-year” process to transform the Leafs into Stanley Cup contenders. As in, he’ll need a contract extension before this thing really gets rolling.

If nothing else, he is making a case he’s the sporting world’s reigning grandmaster in the managing of expectations. And as for the business of coaching players? To be fair, there have been heartening signs during Toronto’s first four months under Babcock’s control.


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Afternoon Line- Mike Babcock

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  Tags: mike+babcock

Video- Mike Babcock On Jonathan Bernier

via Sportsnet,

Leafs head coach Mike Babcock tells media Garret Sparks will start Thursday against San Jose Sharks and Bernier has to fight his way back.


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  Tags: jonathan+bernier, mike+babcock

Morning Line- Nazem Kadri On Mike Babcock

“(Babcock) is a hard ass, it’s a good thing though, that’s something I thrive on. I’m in his office almost daily, trying to understand how I can get better and how I can be a leader. We’ve definitely come a long way in establishing what I need to do.”

-Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs on head coach Mike Babcock.  More on Babcock by Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.

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  Tags: mike+babcock, nazem+kadri

Mike Babcock Has More Important Things To Do

from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,

Mike Babcock says he'd never say no to Hockey Canada when the sport's national governing body comes asking for his help.

That's too bad. He should have said no this time. He should be devoting his time to the Maple Leafs.

The World Cup of Hockey is not the Olympics and it's not even a true World Cup. There are two teams that don't belong: That team of under-23s and a pan-European all-star squad.

Can you imagine soccer, rugby or cricket -- all with huge world cup tournaments -- operating like that? Telling, say, Asian countries you don't have a chance so let's put an all-star team of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans together. And instead of countries like Canada or Australia trying out, we'll invited the best Europeans under 23?

How ridiculous. Hockey's World Cup format is an embarrassment. No more than a cash-grab.

And winning it? It won't feel like the Olympics.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+babcock, team+canada

Video- Mike Babcock On Video Review And The Size Of The Goalies

via Sportsnet,

Leafs head coach Mike Babcock gives his take on video review so far, and sounds off on the size of goalies compared to net size, saying he just hopes they’re not taking goals away.


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

Mike Babcock Will Coach Team Canada In The World Cup

via Frank Seravalli of TSN,

With back-to-back Olympic gold medals on his resume, coaching Team Canada at next year's World Cup was Mike Babcock's job to lose.

Babcock will be named Team Canada's head coach for the 2016 World Cup this week, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. A press conference is tentatively scheduled for Thursday afternoon at Toronto's MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence.

Babcock, 52, won't have to travel very far with the 17-day tournament being conducted at the Air Canada Centre. He will be assisted by Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien.

Many wondered whether Quenneville would be considered for Canada's head coaching job. He has guided Chicago to three Stanley Cups in the last six seasons, all since Babcock last won with Detroit in 2008.

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  Tags: mike+babcock, team+switzerland

Video- Afternoon Line- Mike Babcock

via Sportsnet,

Life will be good.


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  Tags: mike+babcock

Coach’s challenge depends on video coaches

From an Insider-only entry by ESPN's Craig Custance:

As close as they are, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock sometimes can’t help but poke fun at his friend Mike Babcock. Take, for instance, Hitchcock’s reaction when asked about Babcock winning the NHL’s first coach’s challenge on opening night.

“Babs looks like a star and he didn’t do a damn thing. He stood on the bench looking bewildered. Typical Babs,” Hitchcock said, laughing.

In Babcock’s defense, he was quick to credit assistant coach Andrew Brewer after the game, the guy Hitchcock pointed out was the true star. Brewer is a Maple Leafs coach with a background as a video coach.

“Andrew saved him. I would imagine Andrew got 29 calls today. How did he do it? What did he do? It came down quick,” Hitchcock said. “It was a sharp call and had a big impact on the game.”

When the Sharks won their goalie interference coach’s challenge against the Capitals, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer was quick to credit goalie coach Johan Hedberg and video coach Dan Darrow.

“I’m just the puppet calling the timeout,” DeBoer said to reporters. “It was a great catch.”

When the NHL’s board of governors approved the addition of a coach’s challenge to give NHL head coaches the ability to challenge goals scored following questionable goalie interference or plays that were potentially offside there were visions of guys like Babcock, DeBoer and Hitchcock throwing flags onto the ice and becoming the center of attention.

The reality has been much different. The new rule has thrust the video coaches, not the head coaches, into the spotlight.


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  Tags: ken+hitchcock, mike+babcock, pete+deboer, san+jose+sharks, st.+louis+blues, toronto+maple+leafs

All about the 40-second shift

From TSN's Travis Yost:

Mike Babcock has pulled very few punches about the current state of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the work it’s going to take to repair the damage that’s been caused under the old regime.

He consistently points out that the Leafs skaters are flush with bad habits. In Babcock’s eyes, these are the priorities for the club in the early going. If Babcock can’t iron out the issues embedded in both the players and the organization, he knows he’s going to have a difficult team turning the ship around.

A big focus early on for Babcock has been player shift length. Babcock’s been adamant about bringing the average shift length for both forwards and defencemen in Toronto way down, and this is consistent with how he’s historically coached. In Detroit, Babcock was almost militant about shift length. It’s worth recalling this quote from an old ESPN the Magazine article, with then assistant coach Paul MacLean talking about how seriously the team takes every passing second:

Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean is never without his stopwatch, clicking it each time the Wings make a line change. "We use our own time," says Babcock, eschewing the arena stat sheet. For playoffs, he wants short shifts -- 40 seconds, tops -- making sure stars like LW Henrik Zetterberg stay fresh enough to sustain the tempo his two-way game demands. Quick, smart line changes are so crucial that the Wings devoted an entire practice to them during an unexpected layover in St. Louis last season. Bonus benefit: Quick changes prevent positioning breakdowns that result in odd-man rushes.

The 40-second shift has seemingly been passed down from coaching generation to coaching generation, but it’s not a number pulled out of thin air. Player performance starts to go off of the rails once you breach that threshold. (Anything beyond 60 seconds can be utterly disastrous.) I don’t know how coaches first arrived at that number, but by my estimation, it’s a pretty reasonable benchmark:


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  Tags: detroit+red+wings, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

SI’s Farber profiles Mike Babcock

Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber tells quite the gritty tale as to how Mike Babcock went from working in a slaughterhouse to working for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I'll spare you the gore...

Theoretically, this is the perfect marriage. After last season Babcock was a free agent with a gilt-edged résumé—10 straight playoff appearances with Detroit, a Stanley Cup (in 2008 with the Red Wings), two losses in seven-game finals (’03 with Anaheim, ’09 with Detroit) and Olympic gold with Team Canada in ’10 and ’14. Toronto was seeking a credible coach. After turning down a five-year, $20 million extension from Detroit and an offer by potential-rich Buffalo that essentially mirrored the one from Toronto, he cashed the golden ticket—$50 million over eight years. Six-point-two-five average. First-line money, and more than double the salary of Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks have won three Cups in six years. Says Red Wings GM Ken Holland, “Babs won the lottery.”

Why Toronto? Consider a theory. You know how the NHL suspends a player for one game in the playoffs for an offense that would have cost him two during the year because of the postseason’s relative importance? Well, there’s also Stanley Cup math. One Cup in Toronto would be exponentially greater than two or three elsewhere (e.g., 1994 New York Rangers 54-year drought). So an ambitious coach in Toronto gets a two-for-one deal: Win a Cup, get a statue. “I couldn’t see leaving Detroit for someplace other than an Original Six team, but I wanted to try something new,” Babcock says. “The hockey market, let’s be honest, it’s been a coach’s graveyard. Why would I be naive enough to think I could be different? I guess I just am. [We have to] be patient. Get good things going. Not deviate from the plan. Set ourselves up for a 10-year run. It’s probably going to take us three years to get that run set up.” When Babcock was introduced on May 20 in a press conference televised across Canada, he memorably cautioned, “If you think there’s no pain coming ... there’s pain coming.”

But this comment from Henrik Zettererg is very telling for Wings fans...

Playing for Babcock takes a toll; this coach accepts only exact change. “It was time. I think Mike felt that, and [the players] felt that,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg says. “The way he locked on things. The criticism. Hockey was 24/7 for him, and he demanded that of his players.” Zetterberg volunteers that he never thought this in 2008, of course, when Babcock was coaching Detroit to the Cup. “He’ll straighten things out in Toronto, no doubt, because he’ll structure ’em up.”

And Farber continues...

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  Tags: detroit+red+wings, henrik+zetterberg, ken+holland, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

The Message Mike Babcock Is Trying To Send

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

Mike Babcock's voice is already gone and the puck hasn't even dropped yet on the 2015-16 season.

There's been a lot of teaching going on for the new Toronto Maple Leafs head coach.

And it's going to continue all season.

Win or lose -- and it's going to be much more of the latter in Year 1 of the Lou Lamoriello-Babs Don't Call It a Rebuild project -- Babcock is going to get his message through come hell or high water. That's going to be the biggest gain overall this season, changing the way things are done in these parts, re-engineering the DNA of a club that's gone about it the wrong way for a long time.

"We're going to get it so that we're organized; we're going to get it so that we're very hardworking and that we're in it together night in and night out and a hard group to play against," Babcock told a throng of media on the eve of the season opener against the Montreal Canadiens, the hoarseness in his voice in midseason form.

"We need to make it hard on teams. Now, how long is that going to take? I can't really answer that question. I just know we're working at getting better every day."


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  Tags: mike+babcock

All Mike Babcock

from Jonathan Gatehouse of MACLEAN'S,

Q: You’ve talked about the need to make Toronto a “safe place” for players. What do you mean, and how do you do that?

A: I felt, last year, from the outside looking in, that the players took a lot of hits—deservedly so, in some ways. But to me, you have to look after those guys. You have to build a product that’s good enough that they can win enough, that they feel good about themselves. I don’t care what you do in your life; if you have no confidence, it’s hard to feel good about who you are. That could be in the workplace, or the home. Any time there’s no trust, it makes it hard. We’re going to make it safer that way. We’re going to look after them the best we can. And we’re going to build a structure here so that they can be safe on the ice, and play well on the ice.

Q: At the same time, you’ve stressed a need for more accountability—to teammates, management, the fans and media. How do those two concepts go together?

A: I call it “sharing the love.” You know when your wife’s having a good go at you? I always say to the guys, “Hey, she’s just sharing the love. If she didn’t love you, she wouldn’t talk to you like that.” To me, it’s kitchen-table accountability. When you sit around your kitchen table with people you love, if you say something stupid, they call you on it right away—because they’re honest with you and they’re making you better. That’s what we’re going to have here. We’re going to have an honest respect for one another, to make everyone maximize the potential they have. I expect the players to listen to me, and I’m going to listen to them. We’ve got to make each other better here, and it’s another way to create safety, because the players know you’ve got their backs. When you tell a player what you want, he will try to please you.


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  Tags: mike+babcock

Maple Leafs have some issues to ‘get fixed’

From the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno:

As the rebuild continues, the Maple Leafs might not be much better, even under Mike Babcock. But the star coach will make sure that at least they put up a fight.

"Two things that irritate me the most are lack of preparation and lack of compete," he said. "That's not happening. We're going to get that fixed."

The Leafs should be motivated by playing for a new coach and needing to impress a new general manager, Lou Lamoriello. Phil Kessel's already gone, and almost no one on the roster is untouchable.

Management brought in several players on one-year, "prove-it" contracts. Shawn Matthias signed for US$2.3 million, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau $1.5 million, Matt Hunwick $1.2 million, Mark Arcobello $1.1 million and Brad Boyes $700,000.

They also have players with a year left on their deals, like centre Nazem Kadri, defenceman Martin Marincin (acquired from Edmonton) and winger Michael Grabner (acquired from the Islanders).

Toronto probably won't contend for a playoff spot, but it won't be because players aren't trying.

"We're not going to lose because of lack of effort this year," Kadri said. "It's something that's going to change. We're going to be a skating team, a team that is going to move quick and with pace."


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  Tags: brad+boyes, mark+arcobello, martin+marincin, matt+hunwick, michael+grabner, mike+babcock, nazem+kadri, pa+parenteau, shawn+matthias

Babcock’s got his hands full

From the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran:

If there was ever a time when Mike Babcock might have some self doubt about the job he chose for himself, it could well be this week.

On Tuesday, his Maple Leafs were out-skated, out-hustled and outperformed by Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres, a team that courted his services as much as the Maple Leafs.

On Friday, he'll return to Detroit, where he spent a decade behind the bench of the Red Wings, a team that didn't want him to leave.

Based on the way his team plays, he may be left wondering: "What have I gotten myself into?"


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  Tags: mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Evening Line- Mike Babcock

"In the NHL there are no moral victories. Either you get the points or you don’t. They post them every day. There is nothing worse than grabbing the newspaper and turning it upside down to see yourself at the top of the standings.

“In saying all that, I’m not spending a lot of time worrying about that. I’m spending a lot of time preparing.

“We’re going to be a work in progress on the ice. I thought we acquired players to change the team but we need to get the team to work harder, compete harder. We’ve got a long way to go in that area.”

-Mike Babcock, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun has more on and from Babcock.

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Sitting down with a ‘fireside chat’ with Mike Babcock

From the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger:

In the first of this two-part series, the new Leafs coach sat down with the Toronto Sun to open up on a variety of topics, including Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri, Lamoriello and, most importantly, re-establishing the Maple Leafs brand in the hockey world.

“We’re an Original Six franchise that doesn’t hold our rightful place in the National Hockey league right now,” he says. “We will.”

How? Even Babcock is aware of the perception that, rightly or wrongly, some players don’t want to be play in Toronto, whether it’s because of the franchise’s recent futility or because of the fishbowl that comes with being a Leaf.

“Maybe not now,” he says confidently. “But they are going to come.

“What was the line in that movie Field of Dreams? ‘If you build it, they will come.’

“So, there ya go.”


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  Tags: dion+phaneuf, lou+lamoriello, mike+babcock, nazem+kadri, toronto+maple+leafs

Mike Babcock attends fundraiser for suicide prevention in Peterborough

This news item from the isn't TMR stuff any more because it's not Red Wings-related, but as a Red Wings fan, I'm glad to read the Peterborough Examiner's Dale Clifford report that Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock's commitment to mental health awareness hasn't changed a bit:

The 52-year-old was the guest of honour for Breakfast with Babcock, a fundraising event in support of a new suicide prevention program hosted by Team 55, Let’s Tackle Suicide Awareness, at the Trentwinds International Centre on Tuesday morning.

An announced crowd of 506 attended the affair and $71,544 was raised for the new two-year program with the Canadian Mental Health Association Halliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (CMHA HKPR) called Assertive Outreach for Suicide Prevention (AOSP).

The program serves individuals who’ve been identified to be at high risk for ongoing or repeated suicidal behaviour and offers support for the person’s immediate and short-term needs and helps to create a safety plan, while connecting them with other resources.

Babcock talked some hockey and his involvement in the game over the years but his focus mainly was on talking about leadership qualities on and off the ice and sharing why he was so passionate about mental health and particularly suicide prevention, especially after losing two family friends to suicide.


“When I heard what they were doing here and had the opportunity to be here, I wanted to come,” he said. “I didn’t come here as a coach but I wanted to talk about mental health and share it with others. I care about people, worry about kids. There is nothing worse than suffering in silence. People need someone to talk to if something is wrong. Sharing with someone can get you through it and can make a difference. These things have been very important to me.”


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  Tags: mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Simmons on the Leafs’ unstoppable forces, the NHL’s not-so-quiet summer and Ilitch’s health

Among the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' sports notes...

Lou Lamoriello is an autocrat. Although, a former NHL general manager referred to him the other day as a dictator. Mike Babcock is somewhat of an autocrat as a coach. It’s his way or the highway. Jacques Lemaire is about as rigid as they come. What’s going to be fascinating is how these men of large minds, large egos, and total belief in their own ways find a way to work together. The Leafs could be way more interesting off the ice than on it ...

I see where young Auston Matthews, likely first pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft, will be paid $400,000 to play in Zurich this season. That’s slightly more than the going rate for under the table money in the OHL ...

The NHL’s summer? Superstar Patrick Kane investigated; Ryan O’Reilly arrested; Slava Voynov off to jail; Jarret Stoll caught with cocaine; Mike Richards, first investigated, then had his contract voided; And the Canadian dollar just keeps on dropping. And how was your summer? ...

This will surprise some Leaf fans: Dave Nonis, the fired general manager, had three offers to join NHL teams before deciding to take a senior consultant’s job with the Anaheim Ducks. Among the teams interested in Nonis were the Montreal Canadiens ...

And this one, we're familiar with in Metro Detroit, because far, far more of a stretch than it's made out to be in the out-of-town circles:

Many who admire Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings and Tigers, are concerned about his ability to properly operate his franchises. Ilitch is 86, not in the best health, and there is a lot of family interference around him these days. The Dombrowski firing seemed odd as did the quick hiring of Alex Avila to replace him.

Simmons continues and comments on the Patrick Kane situation...

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, auston+matthews, dave+nonis, detroit+red+wings, jacques+lemaire, jarret+stoll, lou+lamoriello, mike+babcock, mike+ilitch, mike+richards, patrick+kane, ryan+o'reilly, slava+voynov, toronto+maple+leafs

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