Mike Babcock to return as Maple Leafs head coach next season

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Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock watches players during practice. (Aaron Lynett/CP)

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas says Mike Babcock will return as the team’s head coach next season.

Toronto was eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Boston Bruins for a second-straight season.

Babcock received scrutiny following the Game 7 exit, especially for how he decided to use his players. Star centre Auston Matthews played only 18:48 while Babcock decided to send out veteran Patrick Marleau in key situations over other prominent players.

The Maple Leafs finished the regular season with a 46-28-8 record but struggled down the stretch leading into the playoffs.

Dubas signed free agent centre John Tavares last summer and acquired defenceman Jake Muzzin in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings to bolster the team’s roster. But the additions didn’t make enough of a difference to help Toronto move forward.

The general manager put some of the blame on himself during a year-end press conference.

“I could have done a better job in finding guys that can provide depth to help the coaches in that regard,” said Dubas. “I think if there’s blame to go around for that it should go to me.”

The Maple Leafs have several moves they need to make in the off-season, including signing forward and restricted free agent Mitchell Marner to a new contract.

Babcock has four more years left on his deal.

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