It would appear that Mike Babcock is trying to save a little face in the aftermath of that awkward Mitch Marner controversy. The former Leaf’s coach, who was replaced by Sheldon Keefe, came under scrutiny on Monday after it was revealed that he’d forced a 19-year-old Marner to make a list of all the players on the team, singling out the players who he viewed had the worst work ethic.

Since then, many have come forward to denounce Babcock, condemning the coach for putting Marner through such a humiliating ordeal. Some even went as far as to accuse the 52-year-old of trying to pit his players against one another.

Mike Commodore, a former NHL player, released a vicious twitter rant against his former coach in which he called him "a terrible human being."

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman later contacted Babcock for his response to the matter, in which he confirmed that the story was true and explained the reasoning behind his controversial plan.

“I was trying to focus on work ethic with Mitch — focusing on role models — ended up not being a good idea. I apologized at the time,” Babcock told Friedman.

Marner also opened up about the incident to TSN during a press conference on Monday.

 “I would say it was just surprising. It was so long ago that honestly, I really kind of forgot about it until the report came out. It is over with now, and it is done with. I was lucky enough that the guys that were there with me, none of them took it to heart. They knew it wasn’t up to me."

“It was huge for a first-year guy… I didn’t really know what to think. I was lucky enough to have that first-year group with me. Our team was very tight and well-knit together. It was a lucky situation. Like I said, it’s over with now. It’s out of my head.

I'm looking forward to the future here with Sheldon and seeing what I can do to help this team,” he added.

The Leafs are scheduled to play the Detroit Red Wings at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow.


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