As soon as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season came to an end, people started asking about Mitch Marner’s next contract, the pending free agents and the complicated cap situation…
However, all of these questions did not manage to hide the fact that some fans and pundits are wondering if head coach Mike Babcock will return behind the bench next season.
Even NHL insider Elliotte Friedman now wonders if the relationship between GM Kyle Dubas and Babcock could come to an end this summer… and he brings an interesting twist to the mix in his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet:
“The coach and GM have to figure out if their differing philosophies allow them to continue together. If Buffalo (or anyone else) comes calling for Keefe, does that force Toronto to make a decision? There’s speculation the Maple Leafs would add Keefe as an assistant if they lost Smith or Jim Hiller, but that’s like playing with nitroglycerine and hoping it doesn’t explode. (Hiller has another year under contract, but there are a few teams interested). My personal belief was that Mike Babcock returns for next season, but now I’m not sure. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that Buffalo asks to speak to him. What happens then?”
The Sabres have been looking for a new head coach for months now, and lost out to the Los Angeles Kings when they hired their top candidate Todd McLellan.
Could we see a major upset if they were to dare and ask to speak with Babcock?