Coach’s Corner: Maple Leafs going to win next year

Don Cherry and Ron MacLean discuss all the news around the NHL, including Mike Babcock going to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Todd McLellan joining the Edmonton Oilers.

Don Cherry doesn’t agree with Mike Babcock’s assessment that there’s going to be “pain coming” for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In an appearance on Coach’s Corner with Ron MacLean, Cherry proclaimed that Babcock will turn the Maple Leafs into a playoff-calibre team as soon as next season.

“They’re going to win next year,” Cherry said Friday on Hockey Night in Canada. “They’ll be fighting for the playoffs. I’m not so sure they won’t make the playoffs.”

Cherry did not seem to care that Babcock appeared intent on a long-term rebuilding process at his introductory press conference on Thursday and believes Babcock’s presence behind the bench will immediately boost the club that finished with the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference this past season.

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Earlier in the week, Cherry was surprisingly complimentary of the Maple Leafs roster, a unit he has consistently criticized in the past for being short on homegrown, Ontario-born players.

“The Leafs right now have a lot of talent — they really do,” Cherry said Wednesday night on Coach’s Corner. “But they don’t have a team. “[Babcock] is one guy that can bring the team together like he did in the Olympics. It’s fantastic the way he can do that.”

The Maple Leafs signed Babcock to an eight-year, $50 million contract on Wednesday, a move that thrilled Cherry.

“[Babcock]‘s going to be worth it for sure,” said Cherry.

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