After losing their sixth game in a row on Tuesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was fired Wednesday. This ends his tenure with the team 23 games into his fifth season.
He bows out with a 173-133-45 regular season record behind the bench and an 8-12 mark in three postseason appearances, all of which ended in the first round.
In 2019, Babcock helmed Toronto, thought to be serious Stanley Cup contenders during the preseason, to a 9-10-4 start with 22 points in 23 games. The Leafs are riding a six-game losing streak, with five of those coming in regulation, and have just two regulation wins in their last 16 contests. Given a talented roster featuring Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander, Babcock was sure to be the first domino to fall.
Babcock has exactly 700 regular-season coaching wins, good for fourth among active coaches. He signed the richest contract for an NHL head coach ever in 2015, inking an eight-year, $50 million deal with Toronto. Babcock led the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup win in 2008, reached two additional Cup Finals and won two Olympic gold medals behind the Team Canada bench. He is also the first and only coach in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s elite Triple Gold Club, rarefied air reserved only for those who have won Olympic gold, a Stanley Cup and a World Championship (Babcock coached Team Canada to gold in the WC in 2004).
Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan announced Sheldon Keefe will take over for Babcock for his first stint behind an NHL bench. Toronto sits fifth in the Atlantic Division.