There’s little to argue with if you want to make the claim that Mike Babcock has one of the best resumes of any current coach. Let’s see: 1997 World Junior Canadian gold, 2004 IIHF gold, 2010 Olympic gold, 2014 Olympic gold, and 2016 World Cup gold. Oh, and one Stanley Cup Final appearance with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and a 2008 Stanley Cup championship with the Detroit Red Wings.
Babs is good. He’s also out of a job, as many readers predicted in this week’s SB Nation FanPulse:
Obviously the Maple Leafs had absurd expectations heading into this season - more so than usual. The Leafs are 9-10-4, have 22 points, and are two points out of the last Wild Card slot in the East. They, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning, have been one of the more grossly underperforming teams in the league. Reasons for that depend on who you listen to. Are there too many young egos? Is John Tavares not leadership-y enough? Is a goaltending duo of Frederik Andersen and whoever Kasimir Kaskisuo not going to get you to the top of the conference?
It’s Toronto. It’s a boilerplate. It’s part of the reason why players play in Arizona and Florida. The writing was on the wall for a while. The expectations of Babcock plus young talent equalling a Stanley Cup were unreasonable, because fans in Toronto couldn’t understand that today’s Leafs aren’t the Red Wings of the 2000s.
Babcock was a pain in the Blues’ ass during that decade, just like his team was. He could be a pain in the Blues’ ass again.
How? Look at the top vote-getter on that FanPulse poll. Bruce Boudreau is plainly overstayed his welcome in Minnesota and it’s a minor miracle that he wasn’t the first coach canned this season. The Minnesota Wild are 8-11-2, and are only being blocked from the league’s basement by the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings.
And yet, Bruce remains. Boudreau has a Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears, another AHL Finals appearance, an IHL finals appearance, and a lot of wins as the coach of a Washington Capitals team featuring an in-his-prime Alexander Ovechkin.
Right now, he has an over the hill Zach Parise and Eric Staal.
With Babcock available, will the Wild finally pull the trigger on firing Boudreau? Former Blue Bill Guerin is their current general manager, and he has to be aware that this roster is playoff bubble with a miracle, but them being the third worst team in the league seems off. They can either call this season a loss and hold onto Boudreau, or follow the Blues’ model of firing a (former) Wild coach and hiring a new guy. Worst to first is doable. The Wild may not have a team that can pull it off this season, but worst to middle of the pack is still attainable.