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.
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.
To clarify a discussion yesterday on PTS, Multiple sources have confirmed that Kyle Dubas has the authority as GM to dismiss Mike Babcock. He does not need board approval.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) April 27, 2019
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.