Shanahan Shows Babcock The Door


Well, here we are again. It’s been a long time since we have had a large enough sports news issue that required a tour around the MSM to see what everyone has to say, but With Mike Babcock being exited and the Maple Leafs having a new bench boss this clearly warrants a run around to see what’s what. I will say this, this is not surprising. This team quit on their coach a while back and whatever runway he was given to show a change this fall expired long ago.

I will keep updating this over the next day or so as more stuff comes out…so it’s a work in progress.

So, here we go, BTW I asked Twitter followers for who specifically they wanted to hear from, so I have tried to bring in those most requested:

First, you have to watch this video from last night where Dave Poulin went on TSN and on The Quiz feature provided the answer that he thought Babcock would 100% be coaching at the end of the year.

“My question was direct: Was he willing to give Babs a vote of confidence? (This, by the way, was before the game against Vegas.)

His answer: “My view on the matter remains the same as last week after the game against the Islanders. For our team to reach its best, we must all collectively attack times when we are not playing to our standard. That starts with management, but includes coaches and the players as well. We must be honest with each other, be aligned in where we are falling short, and work collectively to use times of suboptimal results to build our resolve and come out on the other side stronger, better and close to reaching our ultimate potential.”

That from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, this morning before the firing.

Former Maple Leafs exec Brian Burke:

Shawn McKenzie & Chris Johnston :

Elliotte Friedman:

Chris Johnston: “You got the feeling in recent days that Babcock sensed this was coming. He made a couple quiet comments that suggested he was under fire and issued a defiant defence of his record to reporters following Monday’s practice in Las Vegas: “I’m going to do it as hard as I can, as long as I can. I’ve always bet on Mike Babcock. I’ll continue to bet on him.”

Brendan Shanahan speaks:

Sid of Tim and Sid:

Craig Button:

Dave Feschuk:

Lance Hornby: “The move heaps pressure on the 33-year-old Dubas, who won the job full time ahead of fellow assistant GM Mark Hunter in the summer of 2018 when Lou Lamoriello was phased out. Many of the moves the team made most recently were Dubas-inspired, such as the trades for Barrie and Ceci, letting go proven back-up Curtis McElhinney for Garret Sparks and then Hutchinson, then hiring new assistants for Babcock, Paul McFarland and Dave Hakstol.”

“Mike Babcock had to coach better. It really is that simple. And Kyle Dubas had to manage better. And the Maple Leafs players — especially the high-priced help — had to play better. This has been a collective collapse, this dismal Maple Leafs season so far. A collapse that wound up costing Babcock his job in his fifth year as the highest-paid coach in hockey. The firing wasn’t really a surprise. The surprise was it didn’t happen last June when it probably should have.” from Steve Simmons

“So after talking it over for a bit, they’ve decided to try a slightly different way of doing things: total chaos. It was between that and a measured response, but no one wanted to go through the hassle of waiting until the holiday season to make a decision. It’s a real bummer having to work on your days off. Best for everyone in the organization to start screaming and waving their hands over their head now. Get ahead of the rush. On Wednesday, the Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock. He was replaced with immediate effect by Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe.” Cathal Kelly

“Larry Tanenbaum talked me into going to Toronto,” Babcock said from Arizona. “I would have never gone until I met Larry. He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever met. Had an absolute riot and met another friend for life in Lou Lamoriello. I thought we did an amazing job taking a franchise from where it was to where we had 100-point seasons, we set franchise records if I’m not mistaken, got into the playoffs. I’m disappointed, we didn’t have the start to the year we wanted and that’s on me. I want to thank the fans, I want to thank the media, I want to thank the city, it was spectacular, I loved every second of it. And I wish the new group (coaches) nothing but success. Morgan Rielly has been here the whole time. I can’t thank him enough. And all the players I got an opportunity to coach. It’s been fantastic and I wish them nothing but success.’’ That’s a statement to Pierre LeBrun from Mike Babcock

“Firing the coach now puts some of those roster decisions into greater focus, such as the offseason trade for Barrie, the acquisition and signing of Cody Ceci, trouble in the backup goalie spot, and the inability to ultimately tame the numbers on second contracts for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. Dubas has played a big card in letting Babcock go, though the decision seemed like it was in the making last spring.” Jonas Siegel

“Yeah, I think it was necessary. The season was spiraling, with a six-game winless streak that featured five straight losses. The Leafs looked like a group of individuals that had no interest in hearing whatever message Babcock was selling, and the stats reflected that: Underwhelming offense (3.13 goals per game) that could no longer overcome the porous defense (3.43 goals against per game) that had become a hallmark of Babcock’s teams. In three straight seasons, the Leafs failed to advance out of the first round. Their current quality of play combined with that lack of results would have sent any head coach packing, even a brand name such as Mike Babcock.” Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski

“The prevailing notion among critics of the Toronto Maple Leafs is that the organization is, always has been and always will be only interested in making money over everything else, including winning. It’s not even close to being accurate. It might have been the case three decades ago, but since then there has not been an organization in the NHL that has devoted more energy and resources to create a Stanley Cup champion.

The actual problem with the Leafs as an organization is not one of greed, but of ignorance. They desperately want to win a Stanley Cup. They just have no clue how to go about it. And after the firing of Mike Babcock less than five full seasons into his precedent-setting eight-year deal, it’s pretty clear this organization has snappier suits and lovely banners but is still mired in cluelessness when it comes to producing a winner. Even bringing in millions of dollars in revenues every time you open the door doesn’t buy you that.” Ken Campbell

Darren Dreger:

Michael Landsberg

Richard Deutsch

Mike Commodore:


Bob McKenzie:

James Mirtle:

Kevin McGran:

Damien Cox:

Gord Stellick:

Ray Ferraro on Overdrive. “Something had to be done, and this was the least complicated thing to do.”

James Mirtle: “But I can’t sit here and tell you that it’s guaranteed to work. Enough has gone wrong early this season that the dysfunction clearly extends beyond just Babcock.This was the right first step towards identifying and addressing the problems, but the roster is probably going to have to change, too. Dubas is trying something different here, in applying new methods under an unforgiving cap model, and it’s plausible he doesn’t get it right the first run through. Where it goes from here is going to either validate the Shanaplan or mean it reaches its end. It was always headed this way.”


“But the reality is Babcock did a poor job of making allies the past few years. It was clear how Dubas felt, after the Leafs’ first-round exit in April, as he left his coach’s return wide open to speculation for nearly two weeks before giving a short statement to TSN’s Bob McKenzie that they were on the same page.That was either reckless or intentional. I believe in Option 2.Getting rid of Babcock was always going to be a complicated thing, with the way he was hired, by Shanahan back in 2015, and the structure of the Leafs front office. There were always more voices at play than just Dubas’.”

Jeff Marek:

John Shannon:

Jeff O’Neil, Bryan Hayes and Jamie MacLenan : hour one.. Interesting minutes before news breaks O’Neil is saying that he can tell players weren’t responding. Hayes asks why was he not fired over the summer. O’Neil says politics involved, Babcock friends with the owner. This is the worst thing for Dubas because it means everything he has done thus far has been a failure. Darren Dreger: ” Curious to me is why Shanahan is quoted on this announcement; surprised by timing; Shanahan and Dubas but be convinced that the team can win with their coach. Hayes: This is the first time Shanahan in under the gun. O’Neil: the young stars were sick of listening to Babcock- I know that.

Craig Button with Overdrive. This likely started on Saturday night after Pittsburgh.

Tim and Sid with guests: Brian Burke, Elliotte Friedman, and Chris Johnston. Consensus from T&S this should have been done at the end of last season.

Elliotte Friedman was on SN 650

and then on the NHL network..

Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun talk MB and Seattle.

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November 21, 2019 12:57 pm

Please stop quoting Cox, he’s not relevant.

Steve in Waterloo
Steve in Waterloo
November 21, 2019 1:01 pm

I would love an alternate universe version of what happened to the Leafs over the past two years in Lou Lamoriello was retained as the General Manager…

November 21, 2019 1:06 pm

The media angle of the Babcock news:

-One of my first thoughts when I heard the news yesterday was “I wish Mccown was on right now.” For decades, he was this market’s #1 stop for hearing analysis on big breaking stories. A void that has not been filled.

-Of the 4 major MSM papers combined, the ONLY writer whose take I sought out was Steve Simmons’. Love or hate him, he remains the most compelling voice in this city’s newspaper biz. However, that compliment has more to do with the sorry state of newspaper sportswriters in this market. There was once a day not too many years ago where I’d jump around all 4 sites devouring everything that’s been written about a firing.

-By contrast, the Athletic’s coverage and’s coverage (especially the articles by Grange and Johnston) were both fantastic.

-Finally, I know the Leafs front office can be notoriously tight-lipped, but if a scribe can piece together a behind-the-scenes look of what went on re: Babcock after the playoff loss and over the last 72 hours leading up the firing, it’d be a must read. Will be looking for that over the next few days.

Paul G.
Paul G.
November 21, 2019 1:08 pm

@ Jacob…Agree completely.

After getting a second chance from SN, he just went back to his arrogant persona; and literally once again talked his way off the airwaves.

Slim Whitman
Slim Whitman
November 21, 2019 3:09 pm

@ Jacob & Paul G…..Cox is now the most non relevant media member on the Toronto sports scene today. He did it with both his print & voice platforms. He has NOBODY to blame but himself.

Paul G.
Paul G.
November 21, 2019 3:51 pm

@ Slim Whitman…Absolutely!

When he first returned (on PTS) I thought he was a bit humbled; but boy was I wrong. The original sarcastic, condescending and rude on-air behaviour was back! As you have noted, he was and is just as bad (and possibly worse) with his written posts.

Reggie T
Reggie T
November 21, 2019 5:05 pm

Most of the media focused on explaining what happened in retrospect vs. detailed analysis of what could have been done differently and nearly unanimous absolution of Dubas and the line-up he handed the coach. Also little calling out of Shanahan for his personnel decisions (i.e. hiring a GM and a coach that would not be aligned philosophically). Also fairly little criticism of the so-called leaders of the team (Tavares, Mathews, Reilly). Guess Babs didn’t make a lot of friends in the media, most of whom are still too afraid to take on some of the other elephants in the MLSE room.

Bob Jones
Bob Jones
November 22, 2019 12:07 am

As Darwin taught us – adapt or die. Babcock is now a fossil.

Ron Rogers
Ron Rogers
November 22, 2019 8:26 am

Agree with all on Cox…he just can’t help himself. His arrogance and condescension just won’t allow him to remain employed. His endless defense of Babcock was almost embarrassing…you’d think he owed Babcock money.
Does anyone know…is he still employed by the Star?

Paul G.
Paul G.
November 22, 2019 11:02 am

@ Ron Rogers…He was let go from his staff position quite a while back in one of the Star’s layoff rounds, but still has an (weekly?) opinion column. I seem to recall a reference back in his PTS days about having a freelance contract.

Original Mitch
Original Mitch
November 22, 2019 12:02 pm

Lol, 55 thousand Toronto media members all saying the exact same thing. Nice to have diverse opinions in the city lol. Let the Keefe love-in begin. Pathetic. No wonder team hasn’t won in forever, there’s no pressure! Quantity doesn’t mean jack. A press conference with 64 sycophants is much easier than one with 2 real reporters asking real, tough questions. What a joke. Truly embarrassing. 

Gary M
Gary M
November 23, 2019 4:43 am

If anyone has a moment, please explain the origin of the Commodore/Babcock rift. Thanks!

Jim from abroad
Jim from abroad
November 23, 2019 6:10 am

The coverage on Writers Block was decent enough. But at every question or remark that comes out of Jeff Blair mouth I still think…Bob would have done so much better. 

Paul G.
Paul G.
November 23, 2019 6:49 am

@ Gary M…This piece gives some insight into Commodore’s beef. There are a few new articles out there, since Babcock’s firing.

November 23, 2019 9:18 am

Considering how Babcock was treating Spezza (and others) I have to think that there’s some truth to Commodore’s thinking.

Babcock’s problem was that he was the meme “Is my system not working right? No, it’s the players who are wrong…” and it just seems like no one would/could tell him any differently. I’m sure Babcock is probably blaming the players still for not playing his system and not that other coaches figured him out.

Original Mitch – I have to wonder if maybe the word is out that media access could be loss if you’re overly critical of the MLSE mothership. Hell, pretty much all the media are employed by Bell or Rogers now anyway and given the stakes in MLSE it’s likely been told to play nice or be gone.

Gary M
Gary M
November 24, 2019 8:12 pm

Thanks Paul G.!

Paul G.
Paul G.
November 24, 2019 8:25 pm

Anytime Gary M.

One of the things I most enjoy about this site, is the freedom to ask questions (which I have done myself) and get responses. In addition to expressing and seeing other opinions, this webpage provides a good learning resource.

November 26, 2019 1:45 am

I was just listening to John Shannon on Oilers radio talk about this and the point he made was that it may be a bit more difficult for Babcock to just slide back into another coaching job if that’s what he wants.

Commodore is just saying what a lot of other people have said (less crudely, maybe) and know (but are too afraid to express publicly).

Babcock may be out of the game longer than we think.

Chance Vought
Chance Vought
November 26, 2019 8:31 pm

So…all you fine folks that demanded Jess Allen be fired, called her a bigot, and said that she knew nothing about hockey culture will soon apologize, right?

Gary M
Gary M
November 26, 2019 10:57 pm

How funny would it be if the Leafs win all of their remaining 57 games?

December 8, 2019 11:14 am

Two fifteen second ads preceding each video?? Oy. 

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