The biggest story in the NHL this week was Mike Babcock’s firing by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but don’t expect news about his next job anytime soon.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported during Saturday Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada that his sources say the former Maple Leafs coach is “going to take some time.” Friedman added that Babcock himself didn’t want to comment on his future.
Babcock was let go Wednesday after the Maple Leafs lost their sixth-consecutive game on Tuesday in Vegas. He was replaced by Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe and the Leafs snapped their losing streak in Keefe’s debut Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported on Saturday that there is no bad blood between Babcock and Keefe and added that the two have talked multiple times since the change was made.
“Sheldon Keefe phoned Mike Babcock after the coaching change was made,” Johnston said. “Those men had a nice conversation, traded some notes on what had been going on with the team and it’s just sign of the good relationship they had built … while working together inside the organization over the last number of years.
“Mike Babcock also sent Keefe a text message after the Leafs won in his debut at Arizona and I know that’s something Keefe really appreciated.”
After the Maple Leafs lost their first-round playoff series for the third-consecutive time last season — losing to Boston in seven games — there was some speculation about whether Babcock would return. Johnston elaborated on that decision Saturday, and reported that management thought there were enough positives in the Bruins series to give Babcock another chance.
“The reason they didn’t do it at that time is because there was a lot of things they liked in that first-round series against the Boston Bruins, especially in Game 5,” Johnston said. “When management reviewed that series afterwards, they felt that it was a sign of progress under Babcock and decided to keep him into this season.”