It has been almost one whole week since the Maple Leafs tole the spotlight from the Argos with their announcement of Mike Babcock as the team’s 30th head coach. What a mess that day was…the sports media went crazy and a certain section of LeafsNation smoked a cigarette about 36 seconds after the announcement. For those of you who don’t know me or don’t follow me on social media (and hey, why the hell would you?), I have a bit of an issue with a certain group of LeafsNation. These are the folks that flood social media and the radio shows after a Leafs win with comments about the team’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup. These are the same folks that will call in after a Leafs loss and suggest a million things they would do to fix a sinking ship. This happens no matter what number of game the club is at in a season…could be game #1…game #32 or game #79. I jumped on the Maple Leafs chat about 20 minutes after the news was announced and there were comments about being ‘a Stanley Cup contender right now’ and ‘start putting Babcock’s statue up’ today!
These folks make me want to put my head through a wall. I cannot imagine living my ‘fandom’ life on such dramatic ups and downs. The Leafs are a horrible team and very little has been done with the product on the ice, and as much as a good coach can make changes, the players are guys who have to execute night in and night out. Last season’s Leafs club was one of the worst in decades. Babcock should make changes…positive changes….but his changes will only go as far as the players execute.
I like the hire, he is one of the best coaches in the game today (Quenneville is pretty damned good in Chicago). His gritty approach to coaching is what I believe is needed to survive in today’s NHL. Babcock is fully invested in a team during the NHL season, not to say previous coaches weren’t, but Babcock is definitely what many folks call a ‘grinder’. Some folks would definitely be unable to handle the daily stress associated with the constant pressure of the Toronto media, Babcock seems as though he would be able to handle it. All this is personal opinion of course, no way to know for sure until either he hoists a Stanley Cup in Toronto or gets chased out-of-town like the last few qualified candidates. Let’s be perfectly clear however, Babs will not hoist the Stanley Cup with the current roster….no way…no how.
Ontario-born, Saskatchewan raised…a graduate of McGill University in Montreal…Babcock has coached at just about every significant level of hockey in this country, CIS, CHL, AHL and IIHF. Babcock has won a gold medal as Team Canada’s coach at the 2010 Olympics and has won a World Championship with Team Canada in 2004. Add a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008 and Babcock is the only coach (so far) to have achieved the rare ‘Triple Gold Club’ in the hockey world (Olympic Gold, World Championship & Stanley Cup).
There are only two glaring things left that I don’t see on Babcock’s resume…..a Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach and a World Jr. title with Team Canada – both of these are still more than attainable as Babcock is only 52. And of course a Stanley Cup win in Toronto is also not on his resume at this point….cue the insanely rabid section of LeafsNation…….GO BABS GO!