Mike Babcock was officially named the next coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday morning. The 52 year old bench boss signed an eight year, 50M dollar deal with the team. Now of course, Babcock has listed many reasons as to why he decided to come to Toronto. But let’s face it, money talks and an annual salary of close to 7M per season, would sway any coach in the NHL to a new team.
Risky Move with Benefits
But, all money aside, Babcock only has his relationship with Leaf’s President Brendan Shanahan. Everything else is brand new territory for Mike. Babcock does have an impressive resume with 10 solid years with the Detroit Red Wings and a gold medal as bench boss for Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
He knows how to get the best out of his players and his tactics have been quite successful. His record of 458-223-105 reflects this. But there is no Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg waiting for him at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
In fact, he’s got nobody really. Forward Phil Kessel and defenseman Dion Phaneuf are both frustrated, disgruntled players that are likely to be traded this off season. Nazem Kadri is a loose cannon plagued with inconsistency within his game and the defense of the team is in shambles. But fear not Leaf fans, Babcock is ready to embrace the challenge, all 50M dollars of it.
The saving grace of this agreement is that it’s an eight year deal. By my calculations that gives the Leafs four years to build up to a playoff push and then another four to string together some playoff wins.
"I look forward to the process, the battle, the pain, the fun, the journey," said Babcock, who brushed off the fame that would come with bringing a title to Toronto. "It's going to be a long one, but it's going to be a lot of fun."
This statement is very safe and to the point. Babcock realizes that it’s going to be a long road ahead. He hails the contract and the amount of the contract as the Toronto Maple Leafs commitment to success. But at present, the Leafs don’t have any tools in for Babcock to work with. Babcock has the belief, the desire and the skills to create something special in Toronto. The question now becomes will Shanahan bring in enough players that Babcock can work with to build a solid foundation for the Leaf’s next season.
That’s the real issue, along with the fact that the Leaf’s just blew 50M. Babcock also stated that there is going to be a lot of pain throughout this process. Thankfully for him though, the pain won’t extend into his wallet anytime soon. I can’t wait to see what other changes are in store for the Toronto Maple Leafs this off season.
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