Speculation of a fallout between Toronto Maple Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock and general manager Kyle Dubas is well wide of the mark.
The Toronto Maple Leafs‘ 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night was both welcome and urgently needed. However, don’t think it will make fans more confident about the current state of the team.
Heading into the Sabres’ clash, the Leafs had lost four of their previous five games and conceding a shocking 26 goals in the process. Beating a fading team doesn’t suddenly put them in a stronger position; there is still a lot of work to be done before the playoffs begin.
As you’d expect, the Toronto sports media have been looking for any angle, to make the recent struggles seem even worse. However, one of these angles is just plain ridiculous and amounts to nothing more than a desperate reach.
Following the Leafs’ 3-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on the night prior to the Sabres game, Mike Babcock commented on the recent run of poor form. As per The Athletic‘s James Mirtle, the head coach said other teams in the NHL have done a better job of playing through injuries.
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Almost immediately, certain media did their best to analysis and dissect the comments. As per Sean O’Leary of the Score, some took Babcock’s words as a shot at general manager Kyle Dubas about the team’s depth (or lack thereof).
Once this narrative was established, the attempt was then made to take it further. More specifically, that there is rift in the relationship between Babcock and Dubas.
Pure and simple, this interpretation is ridiculous. How would anyone who is sound of mind, decide that Babcock was criticising Dubas?
(Apart from anything else, Babcock strikes you as the type of person who would be man enough to go and talk directly to Dubas about any potential issues. You just can’t imagine him being sneaky/underhand and doing it through the media.)
The 55-year-old was purely stating a fact in reference to the Leafs’ injury issues. When you lose four of five games and allow 26 goals, you are playing poorly and not doing a good job of dealing with your player absences.
We appreciate that in this day and age of sports coverage, the media is often looking for a hot take, but that really is the hottest of takes. More so, it’s not as if it is being backed up by any concrete evidence in respect of any potential fallout between the Leafs’ head coach and GM.
Babcock could (and maybe should) have chosen to ignore the storyline. However, he still though it was best to clear up any misunderstanding, when speaking to NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger and other members of the media on Friday:
"“If any of my comments in any way – because then I read the article and I don’t read it that way, at all – but if any of my comments in any way hurt anyone, it (wasn’t intended).”"
Babcock then went more in-depth in terms of his relationship with Dubas. However, as per Zeisberger again, his comments were reasonable and made complete sense:
"“(Dubas) and my relationship isn’t as good as it will be four years from now. Mine with (Detroit Red Wings GM) Ken Holland wasn’t as good in my first as in my 10th or Bryan Murray in my first (with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) as in my third. It takes a while to build.”"
The reality is that as long as Babcock and Dubas are in Toronto, they will have to deal with speculation from the media when things are going wrong. Sometimes there will be truth to it, sometimes it will be understandable why that speculation is out there even if it isn’t true and sometimes it will be just plain ludicrous, as is the case on this occasion.
Do you have any concerns about the relationship between Babcock or Dubas? Or do you agree that it is much ado about nothing? Let us know in the comments section below.