Sportsnet’s John Shannon revisited the topic during a conversation on Good Show on Friday, one day after sharing some insight on a local radio show based in Buffalo.
“The people I talked to I think were much closer to Auston Matthews originally and I got three different people independently saying that they didn’t think the meeting had gone as well as expected,” Shannon said. “And just for the record, in the last 24 hours after I was on Buffalo radio, I got a call from someone close to Mike who said the meeting was OK. So you can take that for what it’s worth.”
“This is a process, and the communication between a coach and a 20-year-old is going to take more than one meeting,” Shannon continued. “And let’s face it: since the meeting, the Maple Leafs have changed, too. There’s a new general manager, Auston Matthews has a new agent, and we’ll see where all that falls out.”
At the end of April, Toronto president Brendan Shanahan announced the end of Lou Lamoriello’s three-year term as general manager and officially hired GM-in-waiting Kyle Dubas to the position less than two weeks later. Not long after that, Lamoriello left the organization to pursue a new challenge as president — and, soon after, GM — of the New York Islanders.
As for the main topics of that much-talked about meeting between Babcock and Matthews? Shannon believes, as first reported by Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, that ice time and linemates played a large role.
“In this day and age, and we talk about modern-day coaches, the relentless nature of how you used to coach and how you treat players now is much different,” Shannon said. “And I suspect that Mike Babcock, who is as good as it comes, and as strong and as prepared a person as you can have in the game, sometimes his relentless style would bother some players. And I think that’s all part of what’s gone on and how it’s going on.”
“Nobody’s going anywhere,” he continued, “They’re going to have to find a way to bridge this gap, and I think that’s why Babcock, in the end — probably with a suggestion from Brendan Shanahan — paid a visit to Arizona and hopefully this is the start of improving the relationship.”