The signing of Mike Babcock to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs was a necessary move for the Leafs nation. It was a clear message to die-hard Leaf fans that they’re serious on making the team playoff contenders in the next few years. The reality is that the Leafs are just an awful team PERIOD! Here are the numbers to prove it:
1. 10. The number of years the Leafs last won a NHL playoff series. That came versus the Ottawa Senators in 2004, where the Leafs won the series 4 games to 3.
2. 68. The number of points the Leafs earned in the 2014-15 season. That’s 30 points less than the 8th seeded Pittsburgh Penguins finished with.
3. 16. The number of points less the Leafs earned from a year ago. In the 2013-14 season, Leafs finished with 84 points.
4. 4. The number of times the Leafs have missed the playoffs in the last 5 seasons.
5. 14:31. The time away from clinching a series. The Leafs were up 4-1 in Game 7 of the 2012-13 NHL playoff quarterfinals against the Boston Bruins, before losing a heartbreaker in overtime.
6. 48. The last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup. That came in 1967, where the Leafs beat the Montreal Canadians 4 games to 2.
Mike Babcock signing with the Leafs for 2 major reasons:
1. Financial wealth. $50.8 million dollars for 8 years makes Mike Babcock the highest paid NHL coach ever. It sets himself and his family to never have to worry about money again. Can’t blame Babcock or anyone to sign a contract like that.
2. The challenge. Going from a team that has made the playoffs 23 consecutive seasons and 2 Stanley Cup appearances; to a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in 10 years is a tall order. I think Mike Babcock is out to prove to doubters (like me) and himself that he can turn the Leafs team and organization around.
It was great to see many of my friends dancing and cheering about the signing of Mike Babcock. I had the opposite response. I would have preferred the Leafs making some trades and signing good talent over Mike Babcock. Nothing against Mike Babcock. He is a good coach and has a great track record. Unless it was the legendary Scotty Bowman, who has a greater track record (tenures in St. Louis, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Team Canada); the Leafs could have done more with their dollars.
What we have to remember as sports fans, is that to build a championship team takes smart investing, time and patience.
The L.A. Kings took time to win.
The New England Patriots took time to win.
The San Fransisco Giants took time to win.
The San Antonio Spurs took time to win.
Building a successful sports and business organization takes a long time to win. This is where I agree and support Mike Babcock. Even with his track record, coming to turn a team that finished 2nd latest in the Eastern Conference is going to be a tall order.
Can the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and fans really be patient and stick it out? They don’t have a choice in the matter. It will be interesting to see what Mike Babcock will be able to do in Toronto.
To Leaf fans: Don’t expect a Stanley Cup next year. Or the next 5, 10 and maybe 15 years after that. If Mike Babcock in 8 years can get the Leafs to be competitive and make a run in the playoffs, that is success for the organization.
I wish The Toronto Maple Leafs and Mike Babcock the best of luck.