1) Was it the right decision to fire Mike Babcock and replace him with Sheldon Keefe?
This is probably a similar scenario to the Campbell what if, in that it can be answered over a longer period of time. However, it still remains an interesting question in respect of the short-term returns.
There were rumblings that the Leafs were seriously considering parting company with Mike Babcock at the conclusion of last season. However, after conversations involving president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas, it was decided to give the coach some more time.
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This only lasted 23 games into the 2019-20 campaign, when a six-game losing streak saw Babcock fired and replaced by Sheldon Keefe. With a new sense of freedom the players responded positively, at least to begin with.
In the next 20 games the Leafs had a dazzling 15-4-1 record, before the wheels fell off. In the 27 games since Toronto went 12-11-4, essentially a .500 record to highlight their frustrating inconsistency.
As a result, questions were quite rightly raised about the players. While they might have complained about Babcock’s approach, it doesn’t seem as if a less strict and tough love style of coaching has benefited them either.
For all the criticism directed towards Babcock, he still as recently as 2017-18 helped the team set new franchise records for wins and overall points in a season. More importantly they qualified for the playoffs in three of his four complete seasons, after just one appearance in the 10 campaigns before he arrived.
In truth it’s much too early (and unfair) to compare Keefe to Babcock, although qualifying for this season’s playoffs would have been an excellent start. In addition, while Babcock wore out his welcome in Toronto regardless of how much he achieved, it’s also conceivable Keefe might not be the long-term answer; it really will be a case of wait and see with this particular what if scenario.
Is there anything you would like to add to our what if scenarios for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Furthermore, are there any more you would add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.