The Buffalo Sabres, their media and fans shouldn’t blame Mike Babcock for turning them down. They should blame Brendan Shanahan.
The Leafs President made Babcock his top priority for his hockey club. Shanahan was given the green light by the MLSE board to gut the franchise, to rebuild it to contend and to win a Stanley Cup.
People have been let go, duties have been assigned to new personnel, and a coach that shared Shanny’s vision was now needed, and Shanahan set dead aim at Babcock.
The eight year fifty million dollar carrot that everyone thought was dangled at the 11th hour was a misnomer. It was offered on the first day and the first time the two sides talked about money. That was the offer.
We know now that the reason why everything was kept quiet was because there was no shopping around the deal. The money wasn’t the issue because based upon the timeline; it was the first thing out of the gate. When the money is taken care of, the next question for anyone; for you, for me, for anyone, is what do you WANT to do.
Shanahan presented Babcock with a challenge; you are the best coach in hockey, we are in need of the best coach in hockey, prove to all of us that you are the best in hockey and take on this challenge.
Babcock took in all the information that Shanahan was offering and stewed on it. His return question was centered on this:
Are you willing to see this to the end? Are you willing to stick with the plan? Are you willing to hold fast when the rabid fans and relentless media question your motives?
The Leafs answered yes, yes and more yes…and Babcock said yes back.
Only time will tell if this will be a successful plan for the Toronto Maple Leafs and a successful hire in Babcock. Keep in mind that every year, 30 teams put a plan in place and only one is successful. It’s how you handle the failure that will determine how successful you truly will be.