The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on late Wednesday afternoon that they have fired head coach Mike Babcock. Sheldon Keefe was named their new head coach.
Toronto Maple Leafs President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan announced today that Mike Babcock has been relieved of his coaching duties and Sheldon Keefe has been named the Club’s new head coach. #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) November 20, 2019
After falling 4-2 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, their fifth consecutive regulation loss, the Maple Leafs are currently 9-10-4 and two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Though, the Flyers have two games in hand on them.
After the Maple Leafs finished last in the league with 69 points in Babcock’s first year behind the bench, they made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the next three and as the third seed in the Atlantic Division in the next two. The Maple Leafs have lost in the first round in every season since 2017, including in seven games to the division rival Boston Bruins in each of the past two.
Keefe was the head coach of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ minor league affiliate. The Maple Leafs extended his contract by two years in May. He led the Marlies to the Calder Cup in 2018, his third year behind the bench.
Like the past couple of years, the Maple Leafs have struggled defensively this season as their average of 3.43 goals-against per game is currently the eighth-highest in the NHL. Their 73.1% penalty-killing efficiency is also the fifth-worst.
Babcock has a 645-380-19-152 coaching record over 15 seasons with the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.
Babcock is the first and only coach to date to have won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, a World Cup, a World Championship, and a World Junior Championship. He issued a statement after the announcement.
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) November 20, 2019
He is now arguably the most coveted head coach without a job at the moment.
By Harrison Brown