There have been some rather loud rumors regarding the future of Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock ever since the Toronto Maple Leafs were once again defeated in seven games by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now to be perfectly honest with you here I have firmly been in the camp of non believers when it comes to this particular rumor. For one Babcock remains under contract for a considerable length of time and as one of the most well respected head coaches in the National Hockey League he would be very hard to replace. Additionally Babcock appears to have handled the pressures of the Toronto media market rather well during his tenure as head coach of the Maple Leafs and that is also a characteristic that will be hard to replace in a head coach. Keeping all of that in mind I had serious doubts about Babcock being replaced, and I still do, but now a big time voice in the National Hockey League has just added a great deal more credibility to these rumors.
Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman was a recent guest on the National Hockey League's own NHL network and there he was asked about this very topic. Initially Friedman sounded more like someone that would have been in the same camp as me, but as his comments wore on it became more and more clear that he does believe the possibility of Babcock being done in Toronto is a real one.
"You know all of us who work here in Toronto have kind of got a skeptical eye on what exactly on what has happened here. I think we're all trying to get our finger on the pulse of it."
When asked directly about whether or not Babcock would be back given some of the behind the scenes relationships Friedman admitted that his stance had changed recently.
"I have always believed that Babcock was coming back, but I am less convinced of that now that I was in the past.
What makes this all the more interesting though is why Babcock might be leaving the organization. According to Friedman it sounds like the relationship between Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock may be on very thin ice indeed.
"I don't necessarily think the coach and GM have to agree on everything, but I do think that they have to move in the same direction, and I'm not sure that these two guys are."
Friedman still expects Babcock will be back, but admitted that he was now much less certain of that than he would have been earlier in the season.