A slower-than-expected start for the Toronto Maple Leafs has raised the question: how safe is coach Mike Babcock’s job?
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, it’s still quite safe.
“It was one of those weeks in Toronto,” Friedman said Saturday during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada, as the Maple Leafs lost for a third time in their past four games. “I didn’t get a sense at all this week (Babcock’s) job was ever in jeopardy.”
Friedman’s Hockey Night in Canada co-panelist, Chris Johnston, agreed. In fact, Johnston learned that the Maple Leafs have found a positive way to spin their 6-5-2 start.
“One note I will say is that internally the Leafs don’t mind, at least some in the organization, that the team’s faced some adversity here,” he said. “They believe it will make them stronger. When they looked at their schedule, they knew it would be a tough opening month.”
That has proven true, with Toronto facing 2018-19 playoff opponents in eight of its first 13 games. With 14 points, the team entered Saturday night in playoff position (though they’ve now played a league-high 13 games).
The Maple Leafs have been without their captain, John Tavares, for the past five games due to a broken finger. They also have a .992 PDO, which ranks 18th in the NHL and signifies they’ve been slightly unlucky.
Those factors and more give reason for Babcock’s job remaining secure at this point. It’s a long season, after all.
“I believe there’s a lot more internal patience right now around the Leafs than externally,” Johnston said.