Even though it was not a surprise, somehow it still comes in as a shocker. The Toronto Maple Leafs fired Mike Babcock on Wednesday.
Two important numbers to note: 50 million, and 2.
50 million some odd bucks is what the Leafs paid Babcock to come to Toronto to lead them to the promise land. That's a lot of money even for the filthy rich Leafs.
2 as in the number of regulation time wins the Leafs have had in the last 16 games under Babcock. Hockey is a results oriented business. Bottom line, the results were not there.
Babcock was the much ballyhooed best coach in hockey when he came to Toronto. He got that reputation largely with his Team Canada Olympic success, as well as the Stanley Cup with Anaheim back in 2008 with Detroit. He has also won at the World Juniors, World Championships and World Cup - the only coach in history with all of these titles on his resume. The guy is a winner.
But clearly there was dissension in Toronto. Perhaps there dislike between coach and players. That's okay. Winning teams don't necessarily have to like their coach as long as they respect him. Most likely there was discord between coach and GM. It's long been rumored that new school GM Kyle Dubas and old school Babcock did not get along.
It's a ballsy move by Dubas. I don't care how rich the Maple Leafs are. The owners have to raise an eyebrow when they look at how much they are now going to pay Babcock not to coach. But Sheldon Keefe was always Dubas' coach in waiting.
Interesting that this move happens while on the road. That will help shelter Dubas and Keefe from the media onslaught. All they have to do is win some games on the road and they can home to a much friendlier confine.
After all, it is a results oriented business.