Why the Babcock Breakup was My Worst Breakup Ever

If you’ve been lucky enough to have had a significant other in your life, you more than likely have lost one as well.

Breakups happen in the strangest ways, sometimes. Some of us get the psycho exes who refuse to believe they’ve been broken up with. They still call you, they still text you, and in some cases, their Facebook profile picture is still the two of you together on that ice skating rink from back in February. I’ve had my fair share of these “psycho hose beasts”, but none of them hurt like Babcock.

Probably worse than the psycho exes, are the ones who keep feeding you with false hope for long lengths of time. The ones who will tell you that they need space, or that they’ll make a decision in a week’s time and leave you stranded, always wondering what they’ll decide. Sometimes they’ll even get advice from friends about what they should be doing. Even though their friends back you up and support you as the boyfriend, things may still not go your way.

Mike Babcock Coach Red Wings
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Still, you’re faced with days and days of the constant unknown of their choice. Will they pick you? Will they choose to be single? Will they put off their decision for another week or two? Will the ultimately choose someone with a bigger wallet?

Probably even worse than being strung along, is being faced with the reality of your situation well before the significant other even voices their opinion. When you can feel that they’ve already mentally checked out of the relationship, and start slipping in slight criticisms of you to their friends. They know that you can hear them, and they know exactly what you’re thinking.

Then comes the breakup, and it hits hard. They tell you how great you are, they’ll tell you that it’s not you, it’s them. Maybe they’ll even say “when you coach in Detroit, there’s not a better job, there’s a different job.” All in all, you know how they feel and you can’t change their mind.

Mike Babcock, Maple Leafs, NHL, Toronto
Mike Babcock has shown the ability to win. Can it translate over to the Toronto Maple Leafs? (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Then, on top of the breakup, you end up seeing them everywhere. There’s pictures of them with their new partner, there’s tweets and instagram posts about how happy they are, there’s insane media coverage for the next week about how they made the right decision in leaving you. It’s almost like you’re stuck in a car driving home with them for 7 hours after they’ve already broken up with you. A lot of forced conversation, and even more awkward silences.

Even though I’ve never met Mike Babcock in person, I feel like I know him. From reading his book Leave No Doubt, to getting a glimpse into his life during HBO’s 24/7, to peering into his coaching schemes during the much analyzed playoff runs, or the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, I honestly felt a connection to the man they call Babs. He was a man of integrity, he called the players “men” instead of “boys” and he brought the team to 10 straight playoff appearances. He was a man that I could attach my coaching wagon to.

I’ve been broken up with many times, but the Babcock breakup hurt more than most. I saw our past successes, and I was happy. I saw our present failures, and had hope for the future. I saw the desire in his eyes to make this team (and therefore, our fan-to-coach relationship) successful and it made me excited for what he was to bring to the table.

Mike Babcock, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL, Hockey
Mike Babcock (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

In what seemed like the most un-Babcock-like move to date, he moved onto lesser pastures for a greener pay check. Am I hurt? Yes. Do I understand his motivation? Yes. Isn’t that usually how it goes with breakups? Confusion, sadness, anger all wrapped into one. Most people make rash decisions, and think that their decision is the right one.

Maybe Mike Babcock will regret his decision, and maybe he won’t. All I know is that I have to approach this like every other breakup: listen to sad music, and throw eggs at their house until I feel better.