The Toronto Maple Leafs head coach may be a little frustrated with the fact that he simply does not have enough grit on his current roster.
There have long been rumors of a potential rift between Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas but both men have always been quick to downplay those rumors. On Saturday evening however Babcock gave an answer to a question that would be difficult to describe in any other way than a criticism of his current roster, a roster that now has Dubas' fingerprints all over it.
According to a report from TSN's Mark Masters the Maple Leafs' bench boss was asked whether or not he wanted "someone to get in Dillon's face after he hit Matthews last night?" The question of course was in reference to the hit that sent Toronto Maple Leafs' star forward Auston Matthews back to the locker room under the National Hockey League's concussion protocol, a hit that many felt was high (although the NHL's Department of Player Safety disagreed). That hit came courtesy of San Jose Shark Brendan Dillon, a player that went unchallenged after delivering the blow to arguably the organization's most important player.
Babcock's answer was a simple one and straight to the point at that, but again it appeared to be a clear criticism of the Maple Leafs' current roster. More specifically it appeared to be a criticism regarding the construction of that roster and its lack of toughness.
"Who's going to do that?" asked the veteran head coach.
Babcock appeared to be lamenting the lack of an enforcer type of player, or a player that could step into that role even if only temporarily, on his roster. That will only serve to add more fuel to the rumors of the rift between the head coach and the general manager, a general manager that has not yet had the opportunity to name his own head coach. That being said though it is hard to blame the Leafs head coach for feeling the way that he does about his roster, you would be hard pressed to argue that Babcock has a player available to him that could serve in the role of protecting his top stars. Though no doubt someone like Dubas, an analytics first type of general manager, believes that those types of players are a relic of the old NHL and not nearly as relevant in to the modern game.