Advertisement

Hextall on Hockey: Babcock firing more than coaching change for Leafs

Click to play video: 'Mike Babcock fired by Toronto Maple Leafs' Mike Babcock fired by Toronto Maple Leafs
WATCH: The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced Mike Babcock has been relieved from his head coaching duties after five seasons – Nov 20, 2019

On Wednesday, Mike Babcock was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and replaced by Sheldon Keefe — and the move was more than just a simple coaching change.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and his new head coach have a long hockey history together.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: '‘I’m not focused on what this team isn’t; I’m focused on what this team is’: Keefe' ‘I’m not focused on what this team isn’t; I’m focused on what this team is’: Keefe
‘I’m not focused on what this team isn’t; I’m focused on what this team is’: Keefe – Nov 22, 2019

In 2012, as general manager for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League, Dubas hired Keefe as head coach of his junior team.

READ MORE: Mike Babcock fired as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach

Story continues below advertisement

Keefe proved his worth, racking up wins over his four-year tenure, and was named Canadian Hockey League Coach of the Year in 2015.

Click to play video: '‘It’s been a whirlwind’: New Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe' ‘It’s been a whirlwind’: New Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe
‘It’s been a whirlwind’: New Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe – Nov 21, 2019

From there, Dubas became assistant general manager of the Leafs and hired Keefe to lead the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

Once again, the hire paid off, and Keefe led the Marlies to the organization’s first Calder Cup in 2018. He holds the franchise record for most wins.

Click to play video: '‘It wasn’t an easy conversation to have’: Toronto Maple Leafs president on firing coach Mike Babcock' ‘It wasn’t an easy conversation to have’: Toronto Maple Leafs president on firing coach Mike Babcock
‘It wasn’t an easy conversation to have’: Toronto Maple Leafs president on firing coach Mike Babcock – Nov 20, 2019

Then, on Wednesday, a third collaboration occurred between the two.

Story continues below advertisement

Now the Leafs general manager, Dubas hired Keefe as a first-time head coach in the National Hockey League to lead the Leafs out of turmoil and produce winning results.

READ MORE: Mike Babcock praised by coaching peers after being fired by Toronto Maple Leafs

With the hiring of Keefe, Dubas has played his hand by firing Babcock and replacing him with “his guy.”

If the coaching change doesn’t propel the players and organization to success, the good news for Keefe is he won’t have to be worried about being fired by Dubas — as the next casualty won’t be the coach but the GM himself.

Click to play video: 'Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock fired, many fans aren’t surprised' Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock fired, many fans aren’t surprised
Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock fired, many fans aren’t surprised – Nov 21, 2019

Sponsored content