The biggest event of the Toronto Maple Leafs' disastrous season this year was not the firing of head coach Randy Carlyle nor the flaming tailspin that threw the team into the league's basement like a sack of potatoes. It was who MLSE chose to coach the Buds. Mike Babcock.
He's the guy that led Team Canada to the gold medal finish, by way of Sidney Crosby's golden goal. He's also the guy who did it again in Sochi.
Now you may say it's easy to win when your team is so stacked. Alternatively, fixing the Leafs' woes is a tall order, but Mike Babcock has a will to win and such an illustrious career that it might be worth getting a little excited about him jumping in the drivers seat. Allow us to elaborate.
1. The Detroit Red Wings Never Missed The Playoffs AND Won A Cup
Before moving to Toronto with a hefty contract of about $50 million dollars (is that what it takes to coach our sinking ship?) he was in charge of the Red Wings. Between '05 and 2015, Detroit never missed the playoffs. To top it all off, he lead his team to two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, winning once against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I wonder if the word failure is even in his vocabulary.
2. He Knows Only Gold In World Championships
Mike has never lost an international tournament. Yeah. His baptism by fire blazed onto the world stage in '97 at the World Juniors in Switzerland. The Canadians went on to win gold against the United States and again versus Sweden in '04. Later, he got bumped up to coach the big boys in the Olympics and helped bring home back-to-back gold medals in Vancouver and more recently Sochi.
See him there on the left? That's the face of a man planning his next target.
3. Accepting Losses For The Greater Good Is Ok
Babcock isn't in Toronto to get the Cup next year. We may not even be in the playoffs for a while. He's in it for the long-haul. The dreaded but necessary rebuild.
A good reason why you should be amped is because he's willing to put his legacy on the line in the toughest hockey market in the world. Maybe this is the beginning of a better tomorrow. But he has no allusions to the laborious process. Shortly after he signed on with Toronto he met with the media to speak about the future of the Leafs. He went on to say, "If you think there’s no pain coming, there is pain coming." What's a few more years of frustration if we've got this guy leading the charge? All aboard the pain train!
4. To Be A Leaf You Have To Be A Good Human Being
Mike's a classy guy regardless of his intimidating game face. Not only did he go over into the crowd to meet our top draft prospect Mitch Marner's family to congratulate them the moment he was picked, he also expresses a powerful mantra about accountability. He seems to care about who he works with, and has high expectations for the future members of the club. If you felt like the Leafs didn't show up towards the end of the season, this tweet from Shawn McKenzie quotes one of coach Babcock's important expectations.
Strong Mike Babcock quote on the type of culture he will demand from his team. pic.twitter.com/tWVeGWx3y7
— Shawn McKenzie (@ShawnMcKenzieSN) June 27, 2015
To all you loyal, downtrodden, and tenacious Leaf fans, there's still a lot to be done. Mike isn't the single solution to our problem so don't plan the parade yet. But we're on the right track. Good things are going to happen, and when they do, the whole world will be jealous of the party that'll go down in TO.
Go Leafs Go.