Babcock on Marner rookie incident: ‘ended up not being a good idea’

NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman joins Faizal Khamisa to break down Mike Babcock’s controversial “coaching tactics” which have come under fire since the coach’s departure.

Fresh off his dismissal from the Toronto Maple Leafs bench, ex-head coach Mike Babcock has come under fire as stories of his questionable treatment of certain players have begun to emerge.

It was one particular story that set social media ablaze over the weekend, as the Toronto Sun reported that Babcock “was alleged to have asked one of the Leafs’ rookies to list the players on the team from hardest-working to those who, in the eyes of the rookie, didn’t have a strong work ethic. The rookie did so, not wanting to upset his coach, but was taken aback when Babcock told the players who had been listed at the bottom.”

It was reported soon after that the rookie in question was Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner, who played his first season with the club in 2016-17.

Many have criticized Babcock for putting a 19-year-old Marner through such an ordeal, the thinking being that the incident could’ve turned the rookie’s teammates against him.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reached out to Babcock for comment, and he confirmed the rookie in question was Marner, while offering an explanation for why he did it.

“I was trying to focus on work ethic with Mitch — focusing on role models — ended up not being a good idea. I apologized at (the) time,” Babcock texted Friedman.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.