Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Dubas doesn’t need board approval to fire Mike Babcock

Since the Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs in frustrating and disappointing fashion by the Boston Bruins earlier this week, many have questioned if Mike Babcock is the proper coach to help lead the team to success.

Babcock was seemingly out-coached in the series, making puzzling lineup decisions, failing to make in-series adjustments on his special teams strategies, and, most notably, not bothering to shorten the bench when the team was down in Game 7. Fans were left scratching their heads as Auston Matthews and John Tavares weren’t double shifted in the third period of Game 7 with the Leafs down 3-1 while Patrick Marleau, Frederik Gauthier, and Connor Brown, all players who didn’t show much offensively, continued to get ice time.

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One of the biggest decisions for Kyle Dubas this summer will be determining whether or not Babcock returns for a fifth season behind the bench in order to get another chance to push the Leafs over the hump. According to John Shannon, Dubas has the authority to fire Babcock and doesn’t need to seek approval from those above him in the organization.

Babcock was originally hired by the Leafs in 2015 to a massive eight-year contract. He was the most sought after free agent coach on the market given his success with the Detroit Red Wings and Team Canada but he’s failed to get the Leafs past the first round in his three playoff appearances. While it wasn’t expected the team was going to advance in 2017 or 2018, this year was a major disappointment.

The logical replacement for Babcock if Dubas chose to let him go would be Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe. Keefe was behind the bench for the Marlies Calder Cup win in 2018 and has worked with Dubas since his days with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

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  • Wrote this after heading in to a wormhole that brought me to the Matthews McDavid GQ article from 7 months ago. It is more applicable here. Apologies for the wall of text, just thinking out loud about how bad the decision was to sign John Tavares, from an Oilers fans (I have a paper bag on my head over top of my tinfoil hat, though I am shirtless after having thrown my shirt off my balcony.) perspective.

    Ok, I know this post is from a long time ago. I just noticed it after finishing reading about the reasons Matthews should be the captain starting next season, which are fair enough. Actually, as long as I am here I might as well share my opinion about signing John Tavares. I believe it was a poor decision for a number of reasons, besides the obvious financial implications, I don’t believe it is ever a good idea to bring in a number one center from outside the organization when a team already has one. Or any position for that matter, the most glare being if you have a true starting goaltender, you don’t trade for another legit starter or sign one as a UFA. If it happens to end up being the case you end up with Crosby Malkin or McDavid Draisaitl the players have a better understanding of the situation but I believe eventually over time ego will start to play a factor in the Matthews Tavares situation. Minutes, linemates, pp time, important faceoffs, captaincies etc all factors which at some point in time enter peoples minds and at some point this might boil over but in the short term I think it will affect, more likely Matthews performance, but both players as the ambiguity of who actually is the man takes its toll on the mind. I’m a diehard Oilers fan for whom NHL hockey has basically been ruined but I have no problem saying Matthews is a stud, although I would be concerned about the injuries, so why would they go and sign Tavares when they had the format of a solid center group they could have kept together at a reasonable cost for years to come. Specifically at 2C with Kadri, how long before he is upset about his role if he doesn’t get traded, but they would have been better off keeping Bozak at 3C and continue the development of Gauthier at 4C. I understand the limitations of these players in terms of a comparison to Tavares, but I believe cap structure should match team structure in the cap era and it is important to have players “playing up” to their position in the lineup as opposed to “playing down” as the leafs have now asked a couple players in the lineup which I believe factored in to the Leafs running in place this season. In fact, there is a team that improved immensely after restructuring their roster considerably by positioning its team depth chart to have players “playing up” in the line up. Now, one could argue you always bet on more talent, get the best players and shoehorn them in to the lineup, it just rarely seems to be the case. The New York Islanders say hello. Anyway, I could go on about how I think alot about the Tavares signing was the Leafs showing the league that they do, in fact, attract the best UFAs available in any given summer and that they really needed to evaluate better who they want to keep moving forward and who was expendable to use in a trade to get RHS stud Dman. That just blew my mind, with so many assets this past summer they should have been able to put all the pieces in place around Austin Mathews, Morgan Reilly and Freddy Anderson. If they had the team would probably still be playing. But I digress.

    The real reason I am here is to say I’m pretty sure this blog post comparing McDavid and Matthews from a GQ article is meant to be satirical but if its not, who ever the guy is that wrote this has some pretty serious issues. Get help.

    And why don’t Leafs fans comment? Right, there actual things to do in good old Hogtown.

    Have a great day Leafs fans.