Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Babcock to return as head coach in 2019-20

Head Coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs directs his team during the third period. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Head Coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs directs his team during the third period. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Mike Babcock will return for another season behind the Toronto Maple Leafs after receiving an apparent vote of confidence from Kyle Dubas

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has put any doubt regarding the status of head coach Mike Babcock to bed.

On Monday, Dubas confirmed via text message that Babcock would return for his fifth season behind the Leafs’ bench, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

"“We’re all in on Mike and Mike is all in on us. We’ve had productive management meetings as an organization and Mike and I have had some really good meetings as well,” Dubas said, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie. ” … since the season ended, it’s our very strong belief Mike is the one to lead us, that’s the reality of it.”"

Babcock’s job security has been a focal point in the media since the Maple Leafs’ elimination in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Boston Bruins.

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For the second year in a row, Babcock was outcoached by Bruce Cassidy. He came under more fire following the most recent defeat due to his questionable choices when it came to deployment of his players.

With the Leafs up 3-2 in the series with a chance to close out at home, the Leafs came out flat and didn’t show up until it was too late. In Game 7, Babcock grossly underplayed Auston Matthews, putting the star centre out for just 18:48 – 2:20 of that also came on the power play. Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown played 14 and 13 minutes, respectively, in a game where the Leafs were never on the penalty kill.

Following the 5-1 loss in the deciding game, fans were quick to jump on Babcock.

Shannon’s colleague, Mark Spector, said during a segment on Sportsnet Connected that, in the event that the Edmonton Oilers hire Ken Holland, there was a possibility that they would request to speak to Babcock as well.

It’s now been six years since Babcock has won a playoff series. He last made it to a conference semifinal during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season while still with the Detroit Red Wings.

Next season, he should have some new pieces to play around with. Russians Ilya Mikheyev and Egor Korshkov will be looking for full-time work in the NHL, as will Jeremy Bracco, who finished second in the AHL in scoring this season. The back end will look different, but Dubas should be able to make some moves to solidify the defence.

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The Leafs have made it clear that they’re not willing to part ways with their bench boss just yet. He’ll have a chance at a clean slate once the 2019-20 campaign gets underway, but this will likely be the final straw if the Maple Leafs fail to get past the first round next year.