‘It’s very tough’: Raptors’ Nurse on hearing about Leafs firing Babcock

Elliotte Friedman joined Tim and Sid to talk about what Sheldon Keefe brings to the Maple Leafs as head coach and what surprised him most about the Mike Babcock firing.

TORONTO – In the wake of the Toronto Maple Leafs relieving head coach Mike Babcock of his duties Wednesday afternoon, his now-former Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment colleague, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, offered some of his thoughts on his counterpart.

“Obviously, (I’ve) known him for a little while and had some good conversations with him and it’s very tough,” said Nurse before the Raptors tipped off against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday evening. “Tough business and tough when it’s in your own organization like that, for sure.”

Babcock was hired by the Leafs in May 2015, while Nurse has been with the Raptors, as an assistant coach and then the team’s head coach, since July 2013. So for as long as Babcock has been at the reins of the Leafs, Nurse has been within the MLSE family with him.

As Nurse explained, the two have had conversations before over the years and the Raptors bench boss seemed to like what he heard and saw from Babcock.

“I thought, from my takeaways from him, he liked to really work hard and practice hard and coach hard,” said Nurse. “There’s still, believe it or not in this day and age, there’s still a place for that. You know what I mean? …

“Working and being able to grind it out and get through to your guys is still important.”

Nurse, in general, said he just enjoys seeing the habits of all coaches and tries to learn from a variety of sources, such as when he took in a New England Patriots practice and got a chance to meet their coach Bill Belichick and pick his brain during the off-season.

“I just love watching other sports and I love trying to pick things up from these guys and I respect guys who have won big time and I like to watch ‘em,” Nurse said. “It’s not hard for me to listen to them speak and do press conferences, run a practice, watch their team coach, whatever.

“I really have great interest in watching other sports and watching coaches coach them.”

Babcock has a career .538 winning percentage as an NHL head coach with a .549 career playoff winning percentage, reaching three Stanley Cup Finals, winning one in 2008 with the Detroit Red Wings.

Nurse only became an NBA head coach for the first time last season, when he also won the NBA title with the Raptors.

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