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Babcock hiring a harbinger of….fill in the blanks…

When the pretty much expected announcement of Mike Babcock as coach of the Maple Leafs hit the wire a few days ago (we likely didn’t really expect a different outcome; this has been talked about for a long time), the so-called ‘Shanaplan” came into clearer focus.

Perhaps Shanny will indeed be the super GM, as I’ve noted here before, and his assistant GMs will run the day-to-day operations. Babcock brings a winning attitude to the bench, and the hope is he will transform a roster with talent but in need of heart and grit (and some new personnel, yes).

Will the Leafs be better right away?  Will it take a few years?  Whatever, Leaf fans are happy now, because they got the guy everyone seemed to want.  This franchise, given its heritage, should seek to bring in the best General Manager and coach they can find. Maybe Babcock fits that bill.

(Quick aside:  I would buy the argument that someone is taking on a job like this for the “challenge” if he did not also have to be the highest paid coach in hockey by far. But I quibble.)

Shanahan’s “different” way of organizing the brain trust is intriguing.  Usually it’s a terrible idea to hire the coach before the GM, but as I’ve said, I sense the real day-to-day GM/GMs are already in place—Shanahan and his assistants. Babcock will also have a loud voice in the decision-making process, which may or may not be a good idea—or functional. We’ll see.


This all caused me to reflect on another time in Leaf (fairly recent) Leaf history when they adopted an unconventional way of doing things. That of course was back in 1997, when former Montreal goaltender Ken Dryden was brought in as President of the Leafs with nary a minute of hockey management experience on his resume. Dryden (right) was a thoughtful individual, and brought a different way of thinking to his leadership role. If memory serves, he created a kind of non-traditional, three-headed management/leadership group, which included himself, Anders Hedberg and Mike Smith.  I believe Bill Watters was around at the time as well.

In any event, Dryden’s approach was ahead of its time or unworkable, depending on one’s point of view.  Bottom line, it didn’t really work, and ultimately new Head coach Pat Quinn became General Manager. Quinn was an outstanding coach and oversaw a period in Leaf history that was pretty darn successful, though it did not, unfortunately, result in a championship.

Once what we now know as “MLSE” really took over (Tanenbaum and the Teacher Pension Fund) from Steve Stavro and brought in Richard Peddie as President, things kind of shifted south, in my view, because of off and on meddling. And despite further ownership adjustments over the years, with Bell Media and Rogers eventually at the helm, things haven’t really progressed from an ownership or leadership perspective.

Yes, Tim Leiweke came to town—loud and full of hubris and superficial promises. Short term, he oversaw has the seeming resurgence of the NBA Raptors, but their apparent progress has stalled.  TFC (in Major League Soccer) has spent all kinds of MLSE money, but has not yet found a consistent rhythm- lots of big names but not that many wins.

The early positive Leiweke reviews have died off as he prepares to leave town.

But Leiweke and the MLSE did bring in Shanahan, who is much more than a figurehead former player.  And now Babcock is here, and that should be a game-changer as well.

Success in sports is never guaranteed, of course.  Babcock has coached for 12 years in the league, and won one Cup—three times making it to the finals. That’s certainly a good record, though not necessarily imposing given that he has coached some awfully talented teams in Anaheim and in Detroit. In Detroit, he was in about as good a position as a coach could be in, surrounded by outstanding hockey people, stable and supportive ownership and really good players who had been developed in a winning, team oriented atmosphere.

So what does this all portend for the blue and white now, with Babcock on board?  I have no idea.  We can surely anticipate this will be a team with direction and before too long, an identity.  We’ve all seen the talent on hand but we also know championship teams need a lot more than that.  Every organization has some skill on their rosters. The great teams have speed, skill, heart and real toughness.

A coach can be one of the straws that stirs the drink, for sure.  We see that in the NFL in New England, where the Patriots only became the Patriots once Bill Belichick came to town (having Tom Brady hasn’t hurt…).  Phil Jackson was that guy in the NBA (maybe Greg Popovich, too)—guys that stand above even a very talented crowd of fellow coaches in their ability to strategize, motivate, teach, communicate—and win.

Scotty Bowman had that cache in the NHL, winning Cups with three different teams. In more recent times, Joel Quenneville and Darryl Sutter have carved out a niche as out of the ordinary coaches, as has Babcock.

Can Babcock make that kind of difference here? 

The media love-fest with the new hire will continue for a time.  Babcock is sharp, shrewd, quotable and crafty. He’ll play the media game well here. But at the end of the day, results will soon matter—maybe not this coming season, but soon.

Shanahan has managed to revive hope again in one fell swoop. A good coach, a plan, a good draft in June, maybe a couple of trades, free agency possibilities and suddenly everyone is believing again.

For now.



22 comments:

  1. I was luke warm to a Babcock hiring, maybe in part because I didn't think that it would happen. After hearing comments from both Babcock and Shanahan I am aboard 100%. It looks to me like Babcock is embracing Shanahan's management concept and is willing to work within it. He expressed admiration for Hunter, an appreciation of the usefulness of analytics and most importantly the need to o stick to the rebuild through tough times.

    I believe that Babcock will bring a legitimacy to the coaching position that hasn't seemed to be there since Pat Quinn. With his reputation and the fact that he has an 8 year contract there is no doubt in my mind that he will have the complete attention of the players and that the culture of this team will undergo a radical change. Accountability and not reputation will be the genre and we will not see half hearted defensive efforts throughout the games.

    It will be interesting to see what they do, leading up to and including the draft. I cannot see Kessel, Lupul, Bozak and Phaneuf all returning so pre draft trades are a huge possibility. Further along it will be interesting to see if some of the young Marlies such as Percy, Loon, Leivo, Brown, etc.

    In any event the next few months won't be dull in Leaf Land.

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    1. There's no doubt that Babcock brings instant credibility to the job, Pete Cam. Players will know who's in charge- and will be for some time. A new coach almost always grabs the attention of players, but one suspects that will especially be the case in this instance.

      Yes, roster changes may well be next...

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  2. An interesting week in Leaf-land, Michael. I think it's a good hire, and I actually liked the term and money, as I think it showed that maybe a few boardroom suits might be committed this time around to not hit the panic button during the lean years of a rebuild. It's not my money, and if they get impatient and decide to fire Babcock at year 3, it will be a dismal embarrassment, so hopefully it shows that the guys with the big wallets are in it for the long haul. We need to pick a plan, and stick with it.

    All those press conferences Mike did (there was about 7 hours of interviews), showed that at the very least, he's cerebral, and has a clear understanding of where the team currently sits in their development. The line I loved most, is that he kept mentioning that the guys need to learn to play like "men", and he didn't mean it in any sort of misogynistic sense, but more implying that there needs to be a maturity and hardness in attitude. You know, like all of his Red Wings teams seemed to possess. Two years ago, when the Leafs/Wings were being filmed for HBO's 24/7 series, they showed Babcock trying to fill out his roster night by night, with all his stars injured, and the Wings full of green AHL talent. Good prospects or not, they still managed to make the playoffs that year, similar to Winnipeg overcoming massive injuries this year. No excuses, play like men.

    No Stanley Cup parade route planning obviously (like Tim Lieweke foolishly proclaimed when he arrived in Toronto) as a coach can move the needle a little bit, but success ultimately comes down to smart roster decisions, meaning you need damned good players out there. An indisputable #1 defenceman seems to be the key ingredient on all teams that go deep in the playoffs these days, and we don't have one currently, although Morgan Rielly has a chance to get there. Look at Doughty on the Kings, Keith on the Hawks, or Chara on the Bruins, having a do-no-wrong guy cementing the back end is a top priority. Whether it's smart defensive zone play, breakout passes, power play quarterbacking, punishing hits, or the ability to absorb massive amounts of pressure while playing 28 minutes a night, we need "that" guy.

    I'm more optimistic than I was before Babcock was hired, as any successful sports franchise needs solid management. We shall see!

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    1. Well said, Russ. And I'm with you on the need for a difference-maker defenseman. You can have a lot of good roster pieces but if you lack a stud defenseman, it's tough to get by.

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  3. There was a lot of talk last summer that the reason the Leafs extended Carlyle instead of going after a coach like Trotz was because Shanny really wanted Babcock all along. If they had signed Trotz there would be no way to go after Babcock. I was still very surprised Shanny was actually able get him because right up until the announcement everything I had heard seemed to be pointing to Babcock signing with the Sabres who are thought to be several years ahead of the Leafs in rebuilding. Babcock also said that the Sabres offered more money as well but in the end he decided on the challenge and the honor of getting to coach "Canada's Team."

    I am pretty happy to see the Leafs with one of or the best coach in the league. Maybe now we will find out what the players on the Leafs are actually capable of. The money is a lot but MLSE has money and they seem to be almost throwing it away lately paying people to go away. A couple of playoff games should cover a lot of their expenses on ex-players, coaches and management.

    Cody Franson already said now that Babcock is the Leaf coach he would like to resign with the Leafs on July 1. Phaneuf who reportedly wanted to be traded has also said "he is all in." It should be interesting to see what actually transpires this summer.

    Maybe the Leafs will resign Franson and keep most of their veterans and be competitive with a coach like Babcock. But without elite talent they will still not likely never be good enough to win a Cup. But then again maybe with good coaching Kessel, JVR and Nylander and whoever they pick at 4th Strome? they are not that far off right now. With a few smart draft picks by Hunter you just never know and I am almost ready to get my hopes up for next season.

    It really is a dilemma but in the end I think Kessel and Phaneuf are not the players that will win us a Cup. So personally I would like to see them continue with the total rebuild and move players like Phaneuf and Kessel and not resign a players like Franson. Trade whatever vets they can and get as many young prospects into the system as possible seems to be best option to me.

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    1. Management probably is working through the very thing you highlight, Alton- do they have the new coach work with the "core", or do they move some players out? The summer will provide some early indication...

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  4. When you were writing about your "quibble" regarding the challenge that the Leafs present for a coach like Babcock in light of his salary, I couldn't help but think about the juxtaposition with the Argos announcement of new ownership and the BMO field when I was reminded that the CFL has a salary cap of $5 Million per TEAM!! Sure puts Babcock's haul into perspective when we think about how much sports stars are 'worth' nowadays, but as they say "money talks" and we now see a level of commitment ( $ and term) that will carry significant weight amongst the highly paid professionals who abide under a coach's tutelage and authority.

    Hopefully, we will hear no more of: "I don't do that..." or "it doesn't work for me" percolating in the rumour mill. Mike is clearly being given the tools to 'change the culture' in a manner that is long overdue. In the short term (if certain 'expected' deals are delayed) the value of some underachievers may well spike in the right direction to help in a future trade, in the long term, I am hopeful that this well-nigh-on full overhaul of the organization will allow for a new and positive direction (however long that takes) to take root. And, Mike Babcock seems to thrive on saying things in a positive way, so he may just have a lasting influence on the overall mindset of the organization.

    If Tampa wins the cup, do you think we have any chance of acquiring Stamkos (if Stevie Y is financially constrained against a $10+ M contract - perhaps a more affordable Kessel + + could work for him). Of course, that kind of thing might be seen as attempting to accelerate things beyond the plan, but I would say Kessel may be better in a different setting and have enough team USA cache to be marketable in Florida... Stamkos, on the other hand, could be a marketer's dream in Toronto... might just increase his bottom line enough with the ancillary benefits to offset the tax difference!

    Aside from such 'dreams,' I still think it was good to get Babcock into the fold and see where this ship is headed in the coming days. I have no illusions about 'where we're at' but sense we're starting to move in the right direction - and that's about as much as a Leaf fan can hope for since the lockout.

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    1. Stamkos would be a tremendous attraction in the Toronto market, for sure, InTimeFor62.

      I sense the Leafs will be deliberate but determined in their personnel decisions going forward. There are no doubt certain kinds of players that both Shanahan and Babcock want. Getting them here is the next challenge.

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  5. I'm also one of those who liked what Babcock had to say. One thing's for sure - it was obvious in the Leafs/Wings 24/7 series that Babcock had a "we" relationship with the players. whereas Carlyle had a "you vs me" attitude, or at least that's how it came across. I've never seen a Babcock team that didn't play full out in every game, and didn't play "as a team". If he can bring that mentality to Toronto, progress will have been made.
    As for all the trade talk - how do you replace a Kessel? How would he be with a really good centre? How would Dion be with a really good partner and a solid system? How good could our goalies be with a the teams playing a defensively in front of them in a way that actually works? These are the tantalizing questions that this hire has me considering.
    I guess what's surprising me most that my passionate interest level is not all that high. Somehow, last year has affected me in a way that's unlike any other period in Leaf awfulness. When I hear "there's going to be a lot of pain", I feel there has already been plenty of pain! I'm not sure I'm really going to care much about a team that everyone's predicting will be mediocre at best - again! I have a "wait and see" attitude for now.

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    1. HI Gerund- as we've both seen over the years, sometimes coaches can get the same players to perform better than they have before. Whether trades are in the offing or not, expectations in terms of effort will be clear, I'm sure.

      I can understand your "wait and see" feeling- we'll need to see results at some point. It will start with consistency and effort- the results should follow.

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    2. Leafs Fan in MexicoMay 28, 2015 at 5:04 PM

      Gerund, nice post. Two words you all are noting: System and Team Play.

      To that i go straight to my long standing pet peve - Kessel. Kessel has averaged about 75 points since coming to TO, for 8M. Surely we can get two guys at 40 points each with more to prove/more team inspiring play for that. Oh, and trading Mr. Kessel will shed his average -15 play goals per year for his lousy two way play (his and the top line play at around -100 caused an estimated 10 wins, so no Kessel is not a great player).

      TO needs a system and players willing to play that system. If Babcock can get Mr Kessel to do day and day out, great keep him. If not, bye bye. For me the only question is do you trade him before you give him a chance as Damion Cox thinks is best, or trade him now. My own opinion is that we need a whole breath of fresh air in the locker room. Also, I believe it would be great for Phil to get out and start new.... so i say trade him to the West for a hard working 23 year old 40 pointer and a good draft position.

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  6. I was not as sold as you Michael that it was inevitable. But here we are. Babcock said all the right things at the press conference and was well spoken and thoughtful. But he can be prickly too. When the Buffalo media hammered on him and eventually called him a liar you could see him trying to exert control before speaking. And I don't blame him. But he is going to get that in spades from a few cough journalists cough in the Toronto media scene so it will be interesting to see how he handles himself over the first season when things are not all roses.

    I like the hire. I don't believe he is the 2nd coming or able to walk on water or necessarily even the best coach in the NHL currently but he is in the running for sure. I was struck during the HBO 24/7 the difference between how Babcock interacted with his team compared to Carlyle. He was much more positive and talked about details the team was going to do in the next period and game. Carlyle was stuck on the go work harder aspects. Yes, we all know this might not be exactly what goes on because there were cameras there but I think one can take a sliver of truth out of what was seen.

    His and his assistants systems have produced teams that play well in their own end with some marginal to good goaltending over the years. And has good puck possession numbers. Again we know this is not the holy grail but I think we can all agree having the puck as opposed to the other team having it is usually a good thing.

    He WILL hold players accountable. He has shown that in his time with the Wings he has no problem parking a star for a period on the bench if it is required. And then pointing to the ice and watching said star go out there and perform like his pants were on fire. Message received loud and clear. I can't help but believe he learned that little from Scotty who was the master at it.

    No doubt in my mind things just became a whole lot more interesting going forward.

    Randy

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    1. Good to hear your thoughts on this, Randy. Babcock will raise the bar, no question.

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    2. Hey Pep, haven't heard from you in a while. It's interesting that a handful of us observed how Babcock dealt with his roster versus Carlyle, during that HBO series. It's not like Mike was all warm and fuzzy with his guys, quite the opposite actually, but he was definitely a lot more direct with his expectations. At one point, he was telling a couple of fringe players during practice that they were a healthy scratch for the night, and he was being more than a little bit specific about the reasons backing his decision. The players (can't remember the names) were pissed, but at least they knew exactly where they were deficient, in the coach's eyes. Conversely, Randy didn't seem overly approachable, and there didn't appear to be any constructive dialogue at all.

      I think if you actually "like" your coach, there's a problem, as he probably isn't trying hard enough to milk every last ounce out of the player. In the case of the elite coaches, they can ride that fine line of not being liked, but being respected, as the players see the results of executing a well constructed plan by the coaching staff. The more successful coaches of the last decade (Quenneville, Babcock and Sutter, certainly) fit that mold, in terms of channelling their anger and disappointment with the end goal of fixing the problem, as opposed to just offering up endless tirades. Even those great coaches have a shelf life though, as eventually rosters get sick of the same ol' voice badgering them, over and over.

      One thing Babcock said that speaks volumes was how proud he is of the number of Wings coaching and management staff got poached by other teams and left. As Mike put it, you're doing something right if everyone that works for your organization is a hot commodity around the league.

      In terms of the press "challenges" in Toronto, Pep, I think Babcock is too smart, and too confident to take the bait, in terms of getting dragged into any mudslinging, with a few of the more conspicuous cretins that tend to mingle at those massive press conferences. This hiring is a piece of good news, and we haven't had an abundance of that to embrace.

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    3. Hey there Russ. Yeah there wasn't much to say until recently other than geez it sure is nice to watch some "good" hockey in the playoffs :)

      You hit it perfectly for me. I have always said a person doesn't have to "like" their boss or direct supervisor but they have to respect him. Why would coaches in the NHL be any different right? And I agree Babcock seems to ride that line very well. It has always been a good assistant coaches job to be a bit of a go between for players and the head coach and perhaps be more the sympathetic ear at times and I think that system works well. I heard the rumour yesterday that Babcock has contacted Tony Granato about being an asst for him. I think that would be a solid hire.

      You are most likely correct about Babcock being too smart to jump into the slime pit with some of the so called journalists that hang around the team trying to drag a sound byte out of someone to blow way out of proportion. But he is human and every human has their limits and if there was ever a place to test those limits its in the press room at the ACC:))

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  7. To me getting Babcock and committing to 8 years of consistent management and coaching is great news. I wonder if it were possible to trade Babcock for McDavid if I'd do it.

    It was my view that most of the Leafs troubles over the last few years had to do with the ownership, management and coaching not being on the same page and most importantly the ownership getting in the way of Burke's plan. Media and increasingly vocal blogosphere didn't help matters either. Burke inherited Wilson, then Carlyle inherited Wilson's assistants, then Burke got fired on a whim of some suit upstairs, then Carlyle and Nonis got chased out by the analytics-obsessed bloggers, Carlyle mid-season while having the team in the playoff position...

    When we lost out on McDavid I figured that getting Babcock was our only hope of getting anywhere and I was worried that the egos of Dubas and Shanahann will prevent them from hiring such a high-profile coach as Babcock who will no doubt want demand some control over the roster and style of play. I'm really glad that I was wrong.

    The Leafs are finally in a position to begin a process that will make them a contender and I believe that the team is far ahead of where most believe it is. We have a star striker in Kessel and a strong offensive core with 2 decent centres and some good wingers in Lupul and JVR, two very good goalies and a very solid no. 1 defenceman in Phaneuf with some very good young defensemen coming up behind him and a cupboard full of prospects a few of whom (Nylander, Brown, Leipsic, Bailey, Gauthier, Grandberg) may well turn out to be great NHLers in the years to come. With Babcock at the helm able to get most out of the team and having input in the roster decisions I'm very optimistic and excited to see how the process unfolds.

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    1. I recall, leafdreamer, that when Pat Quinn arrived he took much the same roster that had missed the playoffs the previous two years and brought a different mindset, which the players responded to (signing Curtis Joseph helped, too!). We'll see if Babcock can get this team, with some additions, into the mix.

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  8. Great article, Michael! You seem quite cautious about the hiring of Babcock. I'm not much different: I'm quite cautious of anything that happens with this team after years of heartbreaking ineptitude. However, since the hiring of Shanahan, there has been a different feel to this team. Sure, he kept Carlyle and Nonis a little longer than he should have but Nonis was essentially fired the day Shanahan was hired and Carlyle was kept long enough to ensure a horrible season and a solid draft pick next month. Now, with the addition of Babcock, this team has a leader behind the bench who would command respect with his resume alone, not even getting into the respect he garners from his players with his knowledge of the game and his ability to find the best in them. I'm excited for the impact he has on Kadri and Gardiner. I'm excited for the potential franchise-changing trades that might occur. I'm excited to have a forward-thinking coach for the first time in a long time. I'm excited to be a Leaf fan again. For now, that's good enough for me! Keep it up, Michael.

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    1. Great to hear from you, Twisted Sittler! I can feel your optimism and there's nothing wrong with behind hopeful. As you mention, it will be intriguing to see what kind of impact the new coach can have on some of Toronto's talented young players.

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  9. Of course Babcock didn't come in just because of the challenge; nobody in their right mind would. Everyone in the world of hockey knows what the financial muscle of MLSE is capable of lifting. But he was offered a similar, possibly even a slightly bigger, contract by the Sabres, along with a very likely franchise player for him to coach right off the bat in Jack Eichel. If money was the deciding factor, Sabres would have been a no-brainer choice. An environment with less pressure, even money, and a very solid building block for a team doesn't sound too shabby, now does it?

    Babcock believes in himself, no question about that. And rightly so; after all, how many years in a row was Detroit projected to plummet with their aging key men, especially after Lidström's retirement? And truthfully, the Red Wings didn't plummet because of their methodical approach to playing the game, rather than incredible drafting. Drafting was good, for sure. But teaching a good talent how to play the game is golden, and it can turn good talents into fine players.

    Every single coach knows that it's better to have the puck, than to have the other team to be in control of it. Puck is the medium of the game; to be in control of it is to be in control of the game. I'm no specialist on the fancystats, but that is, to me, the essence of it all. And not every single coach can teach how to, as a team, maintain control. Wilson was a good peptalker, when he inherited a very subpar team. He played a rather outdated run-and-gun game, that might have worked if you had Crosby and Malkin, but we didn't have players anywhere near that caliber. Most of the teams don't.

    Carlyle came in as a fading, but Cup-winning coach, and turned out to be completely clueless with his dump-and-chase, let's hope our goalie steals this one, kind of approach. Grabovski went from a hero to a buyout under that regime, and if anyone tells me his attitude was the sole problem, I don't even know what to say.

    Now we have a coach who is both a student and a teacher of the game. We got the absolute best that money could buy, and we got him (reportedly) without even offering the best contract available, but sure, it had to be at least close to that. Of course, if Babcock gets sacked before his term is up, MLSE will not look good. Nothing new there; and Babcock will probably be a desirable commodity even if things do not work out. For Babcock, it's a win-win. A rich man becomes hideously rich, no matter what. if he goes to conference finals, he'll be the talk of the town. He goes to finals, he'll be loved by most of us. He wins the Cup, he'll be a legend! None of those things happen; well, he'll fend for his family. He could have got that in Buffalo, he chose Toronto. That is the challenge.

    And as for Shanahan, he used a boatful of money that was not his. But even in the worst case scenario, he bought us something we have sorely lacked since Burns and Quinn; credibility.

    Sorry for all the likely spelling errors, hopefully my ideas get conveyed in any case.

    CGLN

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  10. Hi Michael,

    I know I am very late but I would appreciate if you would comment on my thoughts. That`s pretty much the salt in the soup and I always want to know what you think. I will comment on the following posts too.

    I was a bit suprised with that choice at that point in time.
    I always said that the Leafs need a coach that is well suited for the style of hockey that Shanny has in mind. And Babcock fits that bill like nobody else. He will also bring a portion of the culture change that was so much talked about.



    But there were some things the press and blogosphere gave us to read that I didn't like:

    The notion that he will only go to a team that can win, and I pretty much believed it and that is why I think it is an odd choice.

    I didn't like the interview process the you speak to me and I listen but I don't speak to you part. I do not know if that is even true but it left a bitter taste.

    I anticipated that the line of suitors for him would be much longer. I expected some Teams that are on the verge of winning the Cup would try to go over the hump by bringing him in. Teams like Boston, St. Louis, San Jose, Pittsburgh for example. So it seemd that choosing the Leafs was the only remotely good choice left.

    He said in his press conference that pain is coming and that is true, even if everybody else seem to think that Babcock is a wonder healer.

    But there are some things I like:

    The thought that they would try to tank is out of the question know. That is fantastic!
    He will make sure that they will give all they have for 60 minutes.
    Babcock buys the Leafs a bit more time, in the first season the press won't be as hard on him than on any other guy.

    But I said it is an odd choice. It is very unusual that Teams that go through such a change find succes with the same coach that helped them through the lean years.
    Loosing wears on you. Babcock said there will be pain and he said he asked Shanny if he is still behind him after three years of loosing. And to suggest there will be three years of loosing is not a long shot. But after three years the pressure from without will be so immense that he may not survive no matter what Shanahan thinks.
    After three years of loosing Toronto will go crazy.
    After three yearsof loosing I doubt he will be able to turn it around.

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    1. Hi Marcus,

      I hope you've had a wonderful summer!

      I'll try to respond to some of your comments:

      -Yes, it did seem, on the surface, that a coach like Babcock would only be interested in "winning now"- not a building project. But I suspect it makes sense because he can now put his own personal footprint over the success this team achieves. If he can win here, he would be remembered forever in Maple Leaf lore- given that the Leafs have not win since 1967.

      -I was not aware of the interview process you mentioned, so it's difficult to comment.

      -Boston and St. Louis are very good hockey markets as well, but I suspect that, being Canadian, Babcock may relish the opportunity to have success in a major Canadian market.

      -In the short term, he was no doubt reminding Leaf supporters that it will take time to get where he wants the team to go.

      -Agreed, this team will be pushed to play hard every might, for 82 games.

      -The honeymoon period for Babcock will certainly be a lengthy one, longer than most coaches get in this market.

      -There were rumours of his interest in coming to Toronto for maybe a year, so perhaps this is not a surprise. Babcock's earlier achievements assure him the organization will stick with him while they build the team. Three years? I'd guess, yes, even if they lose for three years, he will be around to continue his work.

      Thanks Marcus!

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