With the news that the Detroit Red Wings have granted Mike Babcock permission to speak with other NHL teams, predictably so has the Babcock-to-Toronto chatter resurfaced.
One thing is certain, Mike Babcock will become the highest paid coach in NHL history by a significant margin.
Make no mistake, the Maple Leafs will reach out and contact Mike Babcock. The pockets of MLSE run deep, so it’s unfathomable to think the Maple Leafs will lose out on Babcock because of money.
It doesn’t seem likely that, come the 2015-2016 season, Mike Babcock will be behind the bench of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Babcock will have his pick of teams, and frankly, there are a lot of better situations and more attractive destinations for the sought after coach to lock in with.
It’s also important to note that Babcock may not necessarily be the coach that Toronto needs right now. Babcock is probably the best coach in the world, and if you want anyone guiding your team through a cultural rebuild, its likely Babcock.
But the Leafs aren’t finished their rebuild yet. There are still significant roster changes to come. While one or two pieces are here, the future core of this team has yet to be completely established.
— TSN 1050 Toronto (@TSN1050Radio) May 8, 2015
What Toronto might need right now is a stop-gap coach. A ‘good solider’ so to speak. Someone who will carry out the orders from above, while keeping the troops below in line. And when the time comes, he’ll also stand in front of the firing squad. Toronto needs a guy behind the bench who’s hungry and looking for an opportunity to either get back to the show, or one who is ready to make that jump to an NHL head coach.
With that in mind, here are three potential candidates (not named Mike Babcock) that could be the future coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Three Coaching Candidates (not named Mike Babcock)
1. Guy Boucher
It’s already been reported that there have been discussions between the Maple Leafs and Guy Boucher.
In Boucher, the Maple Leafs would be considering a coach who isn’t shy to implement his own theories and systems. He takes chances, he’ll push buttons, and he’ll hold his players accountable.
While he has a reputation as a defensive minded coach, it’s worth noting that Steven Stamkos scored more than 100 goals under Boucher, including a 60-goal season during the first year Guy Boucher took over behind the Tampa bench.
If Boucher were to implement his vaunted 1-3-1 formation in Toronto, he might have some success with skilled puck moving defence man like Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly, and the tandem of James Reimer and Johnathan Bernier would be an upgrade from the goaltending he had in Tampa at the time. But there would be possible issues in trying to convince offensively skilled guys like Phil Kessel and JVR to buy into such a defensive system.
When recently asked by TSN about the possibility of returning to the NHL, Boucher was quoted as saying “If I fit, it would certainly interest me. But like I said, it has to be in the right situation because I have a very good situation right now”.
Since being let go by Tampa, Boucher landed a gig as the head coach of SC Bern in the Swiss National League. His contract includes an opt-out clause should Boucher gain another NHL coaching opportunity.
2. Jarrod Skalde
First and foremost, a documentary needs to be made about Skalde’s pro-career. The man played for 27 different professional teams in six different pro-leagues, including over 100 games in the NHL. That kind of versatility and longevity is impressive, if not inspiring.
Skalde retired having played his last game with the Bloomington PrairieThunder of the IHL, and it would be that same organization that would give him the chance as a head coach.
After two seasons coaching in the IHL, Skalde took over as bench boss of the Cincinati Cyclones of the ECHL. He made the playoffs in two of the three seasons there before gaining a promotion to the AHL as an assistant with the Norfolk Admirals. Skalde has since taken over as the head coach of the Norfolk Admirals, the Anaheim Ducks affiliate which is set to relocate to San Diego.
Jarrod Skalde is a highly regarded coaching prospect and while it could potentially be overwhelming, it seems as though Skalde is close to making a jump to the NHL level.
3. Peter DeBoer
He’s had a couple of cracks behind the bench of an NHL team, and back in 2011-2012 DeBoer came within two wins of leading the New Jersey Devils to Stanley Cup glory.
After a slow start to the 2014-2015 season, DeBoer was fired from New Jersey after just 12 wins in 36 games played. When DeBoer was let go midseason, the New Jersey Devils granted the Maple Leafs permission to contact DeBoer.
While his NHL career coaching wins-loss totals aren’t exactly impressive, he does have a track record of turning things around wherever he goes.
When I said Toronto needs a guy behind the bench who’s hungry and looking for an opportunity to get back to the show, DeBoer is exactly that kind of guy.
He’s had limited success at the NHL level, but he’s still got a lot to prove. If DeBoer comes to the Maple Leafs, no one is expecting him to turn the team into an instant contender, but it is imperative that DeBoer have the patience and fortitude to lead the team through this crucial transition period.
However, if the Maple Leafs are interested in the services of DeBoer, they may have to act swiftly. It’s been reported by multiple sources, including Darren Dreger, that various teams (including Edmonton) have talked with DeBoer.
Pete DeBoer is quietly drawing interest. San Jose and Edmonton are among teams believed to have talked to DeBoer.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 8, 2015
*Dark Horse* – Kirk Muller, Kevin Dineen, Jeff Blashill
Nicco Cardarelli writes about all things Toronto Maple Leafs for TheHockeyWriters.com. Nicco has PxP & Color commentary experience calling IIHF, Hockey Canada, OHL and CWHL games. Follow Nicco on Instagram and Twitter @BroBehindTheMic.