Maple Leafs fire head coach Mike Babcock

Babcock is out after parts of five seasons in Toronto

Joe DiBiase
November 20, 2019 - 5:01 pm
Mike Babcock

Photo: John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

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If Buffalo Sabres fans are looking to feel a little better about their team's situation, it's tough to do that from within the team at the moment.

They may find some pleasure in the struggles of the Toronto Maple Leafs as of late. Their struggles came to a head on Wednesday when the team announced the firing of head coach Mike Babcock.

Babcock signed an eight-year $50 million contract with the Leafs in 2015 after the Sabres courted him to be their head coach. The Sabres ultimately hired Dan Bylsma instead.

In four full seasons with the Leafs, Babcock had a last place finish and three first round playoff exits. Considering the loads of talent that have come and gone in Toronto, a 173-133-45 record is not all that impressive. Despite that, Babcock has lots of pedigree and is likely find a job without issue, should he be interested.

The Leafs have promoted their American Hockey League coach Sheldon Keefe, who was a hot commodity in head coaching searches this past offseason. He's worked with Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas both at the junior and AHL level.

Keefe has a lot of work in front of him. The Leafs sit two points out of a playoff spot, and have played two more games than most teams above them.

Issues on the blueline, including declines in the play of Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin, have helped cause Toronto to allow 81-goals on the season. That's good for the second-worst total in the National Hockey League.

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