If you put $100 on Mike Babcock being the first coach to get fired this season, you’ve made yourself a very nice return.
The struggling Maple Leafs somewhat surprisingly decided to pull the plug on their $50-million coach. While there had been plenty of frustration directed at Babcock starting last spring and into this season, I don’t know if anyone figured he would have been fired in November. But here we are.
This situation is somewhat like the one with Joel Quenneville last year. When the Blackhawks pulled the plug on Coach Q, he became one of the most coveted free agents on the open market. A coach like Quenneville could change the direction of a franchise, perhaps even more so than any free agent player could. Coach Q waited until the off-season to rejoin his old pal Dale Tallon in Florida. I don’t know if it’ll take Babcock that long.
With Babcock on the open market, dominos are likely going to start falling. As Greg Brady suggests, Babcock more than likely has zero desire to sit around and watch games on TV. You have to assume that he’s ready to jump right back behind the bench and prove the Leafs wrong.
Have also had 2 people suggest Babcock has been sensing all this & back-channeling calls, ready for something new. He wants to coach again quickly. He wants to coach a team this season.
— Greg Brady (@gregbradyTO) November 20, 2019
I could see a few teams using this as a reason to fire their coach. Things are going poorly in New Jersey and Mike Babcock could provide stability to an underachieving Devils roster. He could also possibly help convince Taylor Hall to stick around. Right across the water in Manhattan, things aren’t going well for the Rangers. David Quinn, who came from the NCAA, was supposed to be a key figure for the Rangers’ rebuild, but a handful of young players haven’t been performing well with him behind the bench. Babcock can be credited with doing a nice job developing a handful of young Leafs. Then, of course, there’s Detroit. Could Babcock reunite with his old buddy, Steve Yzerman?
Like the Leafs, the Flames are off to a wildly disappointing start this year. After a great regular season in which they were the best team in the Western Conference, the Flames got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche. Despite the upset, the Flames came into 2019-20 with high expectations to match what they did the previous season. So far, Calgary sits with a 10-11-3 record, putting them on pace to put up just 79 points in the standings.
Lots of things are going wrong for the Flames right now, but would they pull the plug on Peters because of their early struggles? He’s been here just one full year and that one year, despite the result in the playoffs, was very good. Would having a free agent like Babcock on the open market be enough for the Flames to boot Peters this quickly?
Even if the Flames’ brass decided they would be willing to fire Peters in favour of Babcock, there’s also the matter of money. Babcock’s last deal with the Leafs was massive — $50 million over eight years — and he’s going to be expensive for whichever team hires him this time around too.
What would you do, Flames Nation? Would you use Babcock’s availability as a reason to boot Peters and bring on the former Stanley Cup winner?