On Wednesday, head coach Mike Babcock was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs after a disappointing 9-10-4 start to the season. He will be replaced by coach Sheldon Keefe, who was the bench boss for the club’s American Hockey League affiliate Marlies.
Babcock, 56, was rumored to be on the hot seat in Toronto with questions surrounding his deployment tactics and insistence on old methods despite having a very talented team that was predicted to content in the 2019-20 NHL playoffs.
Shanahan Makes the Announcement
Interestingly, it wasn’t general manager Kyle Dubas who made the announcement on Wednesday. No, that responsibility fell upon the shoulders of Toronto Maple Leafs President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan. Dubas was considered both a supporter of Babcock’s and also has been seen by many as the reason the Maple Leafs have struggled, not necessarily the coach. It was probably intentional that the Leafs kept him from making this announcement.
Dubas built a softer team with tons of offensive potential, but many of his trades haven’t worked out. While rumors of Babcock being fired existed, so did trades involving a number of the roster, namely Jason Spezza, Nic Petan and even William Nylander.
Still, rumors were that Babcock had lost the room and a coaching change was made.
The Maple Leafs official announcement read:
“Today, we made the decision to relieve Mike Babcock of his coaching duties and named Sheldon Keefe our new head coach,” said Shanahan. “Over parts of the last five seasons, Mike has played an integral role in changing the direction of our franchise.”
“Mike’s commitment and tireless work ethic has put our organization in a better place and we are extremely grateful and appreciative of the foundation he has helped us build here.”
Can Keefe Do It?
Some will blame Dubas, some will blame Babcock but the chore of turning the Maple Leafs season around will now fall on Keefe’s shoulders. Can he do it? Logic suggests he’ll certainly take a different approach.
Related: Is Tyson Barrie on the Trade Block in Toronto?
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