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Mike Babcock is the ultimate Hockey Man and it is why he failed in Toronto

November 21, 2019, 10:58 AM ET [336 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Hockey Man of all Hockey Men was told his services were not needed anymore in Toronto. Mike Babcock refused to evolve and mold his strategies based on the team he had and kept operating like he had the team he wanted. The thing with Hockey Men is that they aren’t very good at evolving or changing how they go about things. Once you are in the club it is almost impossible to get out of it. Throw in some championships and you can usually do whatever you want for however long you want. Unless, there isn’t a hockey man running the team. Kyle Dubas had seen enough. Mike Babcock was not his hire. The team was not playing a style to match their personnel. The team was not winning. The team had a handpicked successor who will at least try to cater to the players who are on the roster.

Mike Babcock is held up as one of the best coaches of all-time. He is an average coach who rode the backs of some of the best players to ever play. A potato could have coached Team Canada to success. Not only that, but the potato’s team would probably have been fun to watch! Babcock’s initial rise in the coaching scene was tied to Jean-Sebastian Giguere stopping every single puck. This run is what earned him his Detroit job. Here’s the reality of the 2003 Anaheim run. They were outshot 560-703 in 21 playoff games. They gave up 33.4 shots per game in the middle of the clutch and grab era! They were outshot 17 out of the 21 games and for two of those games they tied the other team. So they only had more shots twice. This is not the markings of a good coach. It is the markings of a goalie playing at a .945 level for 21 games. This is what earned him the chance to coach Nicklas Lidstrom.

Let’s talk about those Detroit teams. Nick Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Brian Rafalski, Johan Franzen, and Niklas Kronwall were all playing at a high level. Not to mention the supporting cast which included 20 goal scorers Mikael Samuelsson, Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler, and Dan Clearly. He also had a player like Marian Hossa stop by. He underachieved when the team was stacked only coming away with the one championship. He did nothing to elevate the team once the talent dried up. He bailed before the task became difficult and people could figure out he was just another coach. A huge reason for it being difficult were the commitments Mike Babcock convinced the organization to make in regards to depth players for high money and term. His love of these players and the style they encompass followed him to Toronto and ultimately led to an underachieving team unable to win a playoff round.

Mike Babcock hasn’t done anything in close to a decade without a video game roster.

Did he not have enough resources in Toronto? Is there not enough talent? Why can’t Freddie Andersen play at .945? Are you allowed to play Auston Matthews more than 20 minutes in the playoffs? Can’t the team just… try harder?

Hockey men rarely think they are the problem. They feel entitled to the position they are in. They are enabled by hockey men in the hockey media to feel this way. They are rarely able to adjust and meet the needs of their players. They want things to be one way and will try to break the will of others to get them to adhere to their way. They either don’t want to or can’t recognize it is the skill players who drive the bus (or a ridiculous goalie) and not their systems. Hockey men justify the existence of other hockey men. Hockey men are an OK boomer meme. They get all the resources they ask for, overstay their welcome, are easily offended by criticism, does things because that’s how it used to be, and can’t figure out why younger people don’t like them.

Mike Babcock is the ultimate hockey man and it is why he was a huge failure in Toronto.

Thanks for reading!
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