Was there a hockey game last night?
You’ve got to love how disruptive the Maple Leafs can be.
There was TSN posting a lengthy clip of Mike Babcock’s plane touching down early in the morning. There was members of the media throwing professional decorum by the wayside and applauding some of Babcock’s meatier proclamations (According to Cathal Kelly, someone even let out an overjoyed sob among the gargantuan media corps in attendance). A pair of Sabres writers traveled down the QEW to grill Babcock on lying to their team, as if it was in some way shocking an eminently employable person with plenty of other options chose not to live in Buffalo.
[quote_box_center]This guy’s won a pair of Olympic gold medals. He’s provided two of our most binding cultural moments of the past decade. And he thinks the Leafs are bigger than that – so meaningful to Canada, they’re more important than the national team. You don’t have to buy it. But, given his stature, you do have to respect the source. (Also – stick it, Montreal.)
Breaking protocol, people began to clap. Someone in the media section actually sobbed and said, “Wow.”
– Cathal Kelly[/quote_box_center]
Mike Babcock did about 18 hours of media spots, which you can get the full digest of down below.
- MLHS: Mike Babcock on analytics, making the Leafs an attractive destination, and much more (Transcript)
My point is this – if we create an environment – not if – when we create an environment that allows these players to be safe, it’s going to be way better. How many people from Ontario play in the NHL? Once we make it safe, they’re coming home.. They don’t right now. It’s really hard. Mark my words: They’ll be coming.
- Declan Kerin: Jim Paliafito added to Toronto Maple Leafs front office (MLHS)
Mark Hunter (London Knights), Kyle Dubas (Sault Ste. Marie), Lindsay Hofford (London Knights), Wes Clark (Sault Ste. Marie) and now Jim Paliafito (Saginaw)—from the old boys club to the OHL boys club. Paliafito is well known as one of the hardest working GMs in the OHL according to contacts in the O, is close with Mark Hunter, and has a reputation as an excellent talent evaluator.
- MLHS: Brendan Shanahan: “One thing I admire about Mike Babcock is his ability to coach an entire roster” (Transcript)
I heard all the commentary, I heard people take swipes at us and say, “he’s going to laugh us right out the door.” People understood that he had other opportunities with teams who had started their build earlier or were further down the road or where winning might come quicker. I didn’t hide from myself, I embraced it. I actually thought to myself that our only chance at attracting him is, I always felt for the same reasons people thought he wouldn’t be interested, that might be the biggest hook to a challenge-seeking guy like Mike.
- MLHS: Mike Babcock: “I want to be the best coach of my generation” (Transcript)
I don’t want to have a playoff team, I want to have a Cup team. If you want a Cup team, you have to have a Cup process. That’s Cup scouting, Cup drafting, that’s Cup development. You don’t get lucky by accident. When preparation meets opportunity you get lucky. When you do the work, things happen.
- MLHS: Mike Babcock Introductory Press Conference (Transcript)
When I talked to Larry, George and Guy about the process here, one of my questions to them was real clear: Are you willing to stick to it, are we in it together? When it’s hard, when it’s really hard, are you going to be in it? Are you for sure? Once I got that commitment, it was different.
- MLHS: Mike Babcock on Hockey Central with George Stroumboulopoulos (Video)
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock sits down with George Stroumboulopoulos to talk about his decision to come to Toronto, his style of coaching, his relationship with Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and so much more.
More video: Babcock on OTR | Babcock Post-Conference Media Scrum
- Elliotte Friedman: Phaneuf says he’s ‘in’ with Babcock in charge (Sportsnet)
“Yeah, I’m in,” the Toronto Maple Leafs captain said by telephone. “I signed here for seven years for a reason. To be part of it. I’m fully prepared to go through the process.”
- Michael Grange: It’s ride or die for the Maple Leafs, Babcock, Shanahan (Sportsnet)
Win a Stanley Cup here and everyone gets out alive. Fail and they are laughingstocks, exposed as hubristic schemers who believed their will, energy and money could be the difference in a sport that so often turns on a rolling puck, a rut in the ice or finding Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterburg in the sixth and seventh rounds of consecutive drafts. It’s terrifying, really, which is why they’re here.
- Sean McIndoe: Toronto wins the great Mike Babcock sweepstakes (Grantland)
Maybe the biggest winner here is Shanahan. He called his shot on this one, not so much with his words but with his actions over the past year. Talking a big game is nothing new in Toronto, but actually delivering sure is. Shanahan has already faced criticism of his approach to hiring — the team currently has no GM and just parted ways with its AHL coach. With the Leafs seeming to fall out of the Babcock picturein recent days, the narrative of a disorganized organization being led by a rookie, overmatched executive was getting ready to grind into full gear.
- David Shoalts: ‘We’re close’: MLSE nearly ready to name new CEO to replace Tim Leiweke, chairman says (The Globe and Mail)
Larry Tanenbaum said Thursday that the Toronto-based sports organization’s lengthy search for a CEO, which has dragged on since August, is nearing an end, hinting an announcement could come within the next month.
- James Mirtle: How much can Mike Babcock really help the Leafs? (The Globe and Mail)
In that sense, this isn’t a typical hire. Babcock will essentially be part development coach, part assistant GM and part bench boss in Toronto, one of a chorus of voices in a group that Shanahan referred to as “people way smarter and way better at this than me.”
- Jonas Siegel: Babcock sold by Shanahan’s pledge of patience (TSN.ca)
Their seemingly firm commitment to that proposition, that of a sound, steady and slow rebuild – along with the priciest contract ever for an NHL head coach – is what sold Babcock on becoming the 30th man to coach the Maple Leafs.
- Stephen Whyno: How Mike Babcock decided on the Maple Leafs (Sportsnet)
On May 8, Babcock got permission to talk to other teams. Leafs president Brendan Shanahan spoke with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and filled out the necessary paperwork to interview Babcock and within 10 minutes was on the phone with him.
- Clrkaitken: Rebuilding the Maple Leafs: Part 1 (Pension Plan Puppets)
It’s no secret that as an organization, the Maple Leafs need help in virtually every area. Some people may try to quibble that Player X or Prospect Y are a real great piece, but the overall point can’t really be argued; the Leafs organization is thin in a lot of areas, and needs to bolster its talent pool at nearly all levels of the organization.
— Alec Brownscombe (@MapleLeafsHS) May 22, 2015