Leafs fire former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock

Leafs fire former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock

Leafs fire former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock on Wednesday and named Toronto Marlies boss Sheldon Keefe as his replacement.

In a press release, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said the team was "extremely grateful and appreciative of the foundation he has helped us build here", in reference to Babacock.

No other coaching changes will be made at this time, leaving Dave Hakstol and Paul McFarland as Keefe's assistants.

Sheldon Keefe will make his coaching debut against Arizona tomorrow night after an impressive 10-2-2 start to the 2019-20 season with the Toronto Marlies, and hopefully this could be the first of many positive things to come out of the Maple Leafs organization for the remainder of the season.

Mike Babcock left the Detroit Red Wings four years ago, signing the richest contract in National Hockey League coaching history with the Toronto Maple Leafs in hopes of resurrecting a moribund franchise. He exits with three years remaining on that contract, having compiled a 173-133-41 record.

Though Babcock deserves plenty of credit for taking a young and flawed roster to the playoffs in three straight years from 2017 to '19, expectations continued to mount in Toronto. Toronto finished 30th in the NHL in his first season, which allowed the club to draft Auston Matthews first overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Bringing Keefe into a team where the morale is clearly low, being on a six-game losing streak, has the potential for both good and bad outcomes. He guided the Leafs to consecutive playoff berths (in 2017 and '17) for the first time since 2003 and 2004. Former Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe will take over the duties behind the bench.

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