Former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith has offered his comments on the now infamous “list”, the one former head coach Mike Babcock had Mitch Marner fill out to rank his teammates from best to worst in terms of work ethic. Smith, who is now head coach of the Ottawa Senators, claims to have only found out about it a while after it happened.
“I didn’t know anything about it to be honest,” Smith told TSN. “You know, I heard about it later. You know, what I remember of it, I just thought, and I’m not a hundred percent sure, that he (Babcock) was trying to motivate Naz (Nazem Kadri) at the time to work harder in practice. I really don’t recall the whole, the whole situation, to be honest.”
If you aren’t already aware of the full details, Babcock turned around a shared the list with some of Marner’s teammates, specifically former Leafs’ Kadri and Tyler Bozak, who Marner had placed near the bottom. He apparently felt their work ethic could be increased. Both Marner and Babcock have since confirmed the incident, with Babcock saying he realized after the fact that it was a bad move and apologized to Marner, who was in his rookie year then.
As for Smith saying he wasn’t aware of it, that statement was meant with a fair amount of skepticism on Twitter, where TSN posted the video. Some of the less subtle responses range from “Ya, and I didn’t inhale”, to “bull----". There were a couple of eye-rolling gifs thrown in for good measure.
Smith started with Toronto at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the same time as Babcock, after leaving his coaching position with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. After last season, he resigned from the Leafs and was named head coach of the Sens.