Former Toronto Maple Leaf Carlo Colaiacovo is speaking at length about his short time under Mike Babcock while playing in Detroit. Colaiacovo is backing up what many have already said about Babcock; not a lot of players were big fans of the guy.
“I’m not going to go out on a limb and say he’s a bad guy, because that’s not my place. I only played for him for less than half a season, but I can understand why people say he’s a bad guy. I played with guys in Detroit that hated him. I told you that every year in Detroit the leaders would go in and try to get him fired, but (GM) Kenny Holland wouldn’t even entertain that conversation because he knew what he was getting as a coach,” Colaiacovo told TSN.
Colaiacovo, who was in the Leafs’ system for about eight years, played just six regular season games with Detroit, as well as nine playoff games, in 2012-13. He also spent part of that year with Detroit’s AHL affiliate, Grand Rapids. He’s now a radio host at TSN 1050.
“This is about a guy in Mike Babcock who uses fear and a sense of being uncomfortable as, I don’t even know if it’s a motivational (thing), but he uses it as a strategy with his players,” said Colaiacovo. “Maybe that is something that worked back in the day, but in today’s generational type of player, the young generation, the young superstars, the way the game has changed, I just don’t understand when you listen to all of this -- and I have been aware of this (Marner story) for the last year or so, I don’t know why this has come out now. I’ve known about this for a long time. And I’ve known about other things that Mike Babcock has done to players that he’s coached and players that have played for him that haven’t even scratched the surface ... There’s gotta be something said about ... the way players that have played for Mike Babcock feel about him."
It was recently revealed that Babcock had Mitch Marner list his teammates from best to worst in terms of work ethic in Marner’s rookie season, and then turned around and shared that list with some players on the team. Many believe the actions were very manipulative, especially considering it involved a young rookie trying to find his place on the team. Babcock has since told members of the media it was a bad move, adding he apologized to Marner shortly after it happened.
Colaiacovo admits while he was excited to play for the Red Wings when he went there, the things he had heard about Babcock in advance caused him to have reservations.
“When I signed with Detroit, my biggest thing is that I really wanted to play for the Red Wings, but I was also very worried about playing for Mike Babcock because of the players that played for him, the things that they were saying about him, how he’s ‘not a good person,’ how he ‘doesn’t treat guys with respect,' how he singles guys out, how he makes examples of players. This isn’t a one-off ... if you talk to a lot of players that have played for Mike Babcock, they will all share the same sentiment: Good coach, but very, very questionable with the things he does to certain people."