Leafs fire Babcock, name Sheldon Keefe head coach
- The Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock on Wednesday and named Toronto Marlies boss Sheldon Keefe as his replacement.
- Toronto, which came into 2019-20 with Stanley Cup aspirations, lost its sixth consecutive game Tuesday night in Vegas, falling to 9-10-4 on the season.
- The club ranks 30th in goals against and sits in the bottom portion of the league in both power-play and penalty-kill efficiency.
Today, we made the decision to relieve Mike Babcock of his coaching duties and named Sheldon Keefe our new head coach. Over parts of the last five seasons, Mike has played an integral role in changing the direction of our franchise.”
- The disappointing start has come after a summer of major roster turnover that saw general manager Kyle Dubas bring in Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot in a blockbuster trade that sent longtime Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri to the Colorado Avalanche.
- Babcock was in his fifth season with the Maple Leafs after signing an eight-year contract that paid him $6.25 million annually.
- After Toronto finished last overall in his debut season and won the right to draft Auston Matthews first overall in 2016, Babcock led Toronto to the playoffs in each of the past three years, but never beyond the first round.
- He’s now the first NHL head coach to be fired this season.
- Keefe’s connection with Dubas goes back to their time with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds.
- The 39-year-old Keefe was then hired as Marlies head coach in 2015 and led them to the Calder Cup title in 2018.
- With more than 700 wins as a head coach in the NHL, which NHL team will he coach next?
- Calgary? Detroit? or New Jersey?
- To be continued…
Sources & Credits: Toronto Maple Leafs, The Score
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