What a day in Leafland. It wasn’t exactly a Clarkson trade-level blindside news bomb, but even best-in-the-biz Bob McKenzie gave the Leafs zero chance at landing Mike Babcock 24 hours ago, as it appears only Shanahan himself knows what Shanahan is up to.

The latest news and notes:

  • The angle of Babcock attracting talent is going to be fascinating to follow (Stamkos 2016!!) and we may be seeing our first signs of it with a potential assistant coach hiring of Guy Boucher. The Red Wings reportedly were interested in Boucher last season as an assistant under Babcock, but he was locked into his contract with Bern in the Swiss League, which is no longer the case. We know Boucher was interviewed by the Leafs for the head coaching job quite recently, but we don’t know how interested he would be in an assistant spot or if there are other head coaching opportunities out there for Boucher. Louis Jean thinks it’s unlikely.
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  • Bob McKenzie on the hire: “The thought was that maybe Toronto was too re-build-y for him, that that was why he might want to stay in Detroit. This is a hell of a coup by the Maple Leafs to sell Babcock on how this is a huge mountain to climb, and we’re all here – Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter, Brendan Shanahan – because we want that challenge, and of course it doesn’t hurt when you can give someone an unprecedented term – an eight year term for an NHL coach – and unprecedented dollars.
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  • Mike Babcock will earn more than two-times the amount of the next highest paid coach in the early years of his deal:
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    1. Mike Babcock, $6.25M
    2. Todd McLellan, $3M
    3. Joel Quenneville, $2.75M
    4. Claude Julien $2.5M
    5. Darryl Sutter, $2M, Michel Therrien, $2M, Alain Vigneault, $2M, Peter Laviolette, $2M, Lindy Ruff, $2M
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  • Bob McKenzie on the GM search: “There were some people in Detroit when he walked out the door today who said, ‘you can hire a GM in Toronto, but you’ve got a guy in Mike Babcock who knows what he wants in players.’ But you need somebody to do the GM’s job. There is a job to be done there and it’s more than pushing paper. Even if you do have a strong willed coach who has some real strong ideas of like Mike Babcock will on what he wants in players and player acquisition, you do need someone who able to say to him no, or that’s not where we need to go, or to suggest a different plan of attack. Brendan Shanahan will continue to look both externally and internally for a GM.”
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  • He hadn’t been mentioned for a few weeks, but Sean Burke remains a possibility on the GM front, according to Renaud Lavoie.
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  • There were rumblings of an out clause after five years in Babcock’s deal, but that’s been denied by Bob McKenzie. The Leafs will have to give up a third round pick sometime in the next thee years as compensation.
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  • Most fascinating to listen out for in tomorrow’s press conference with Babcock will be how much he emphasizes and embraces patience, the “process,” and the importance of youth and development. There have been some concerns voiced about a win-now mentality Babcock could be bringing, or that Babcock rode his veterans hard and the Wings weren’t the easiest team to break into for young players. Babcock undoubtedly will have to shift gears to some degree with the Leafs. As Babcock said himself, “Kronwall, Datsyuk and Zetterberg carried me around for years.” He’s missed the playoffs only once in his 12 seasons as an NHL head coach. It seems likely both of those things will be coming to an end in Toronto.
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  • Darren Dreger on TSN Drive, when Babcock came to Toronto midseason and was bombarded with questions about his future:  “The story was Mike said, ‘What a circus. I can’t even believe what Carlyle has to deal with day in day out.'”  Welcome to the circus, Mike.
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  • The press conference will air at 11 a.m. EST, and we’ll have the stream up live here on the site.

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