Fantasy Impact: Toronto Fires Mike Babcock

Cam Robinson



The writing had been on the wall, but on Wednesday afternoon we finally saw the other shoe drop. After a 9-10-4 start that had the Toronto Maple Leafs flailing outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the club opted to let go of the highest-paid coach in the game. With him goes a legacy of success that Mike Babcock had fostered with his illustrious time in Detroit and with the Canadian National team. 



When Babcock signed an eight-year deal that paid him 50 million over the duration back in 2015, the Leafs were in the throes of rebuilding. They would bottom out that first season and land the first overall pick and select Auston Matthews. It was supposed to be a decisive turnaround point in a franchise that had suffered decades of poor post-season results and nearly a 50-year Stanley Cup drought. And there were some good times – in the regular season anyway. But when push came to shove, a team peppered with star talent was unable to deliver early and often in 2019-20. Their defensive play has been putrid. Their stars failing to take steps forward. A new voice was needed to attempt a spark. 


That new voice will come in the form of now-former Toronto Marlies coach, Sheldon Keefe. Keefe, a former NHLer, has a reputation as a 'player's coach' something we're seeing more and more of in a world where players under-25 are running the show and are not well versed in coaches limited communication and giving the tough love. The 39-year-old has found success at the lower levels – leading the Marlies to an AHL Championship in 2017-18 and winning the CHL Coach of the Year in 2014-15. 


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