Mike Babcock pushes back on coaching controversies, says ‘smell test doesn’t add up’

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It has been just a little over 15 months since Mike Babcock final stepped behind an NHL bench. The Maple Leafs fired him on Nov. 20, 2019, following a six-game skid and just a little greater than 4 seasons with the membership.

Not lengthy after his dismissal, it was revealed that in 2017, Babcock requested Leafs ahead Mitch Marner to rank how he considered his teammates’ work ethic. Babcock revealed the checklist to the group. He told Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman in 2019 that he apologized on the time for doing so.

But then extra got here out.

Mike Commodore and Mark Fraser went on social media to remark on their points along with his coaching techniques and therapy of gamers. Then, Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios disclosed on “Spittin’ Chiclets” that Babcock verbally assaulted former Johan Franzen. The former ahead instructed a Swedish publication that Babcock is “the worst person I’ve ever met. A bully.”

Babcock has returned to the highlight prior to now few months after time away. He labored with the University of Vermont males’s hockey group. He joined NBC half time as a studio analyst. He spoke to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun about a variety of matters. Most not too long ago, he was employed as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan’s males’s hockey group.

On Wednesday, earlier than the Flames performed Babcock’s final group, the Maple Leafs, Sportsnet aired a sit-down interview carried out by Christine Simpson. While Babcock might need been seeking to clear the air, he as a substitute got here off as defensive and at occasions did not actually put the onus on himself for what transpired.

“What happened, I was in a tree stand, hunting on my farm in Ohio, and I get this thing, and I said, ‘Yeah, I apologize for that.’ But I didn’t know the story wasn’t right,” Babcock mentioned when requested concerning the Marner incident. “Mitch was at a time that it wasn’t going quite as good. He was in my office and I said: ‘Rank yourself on the work ethic list.’ And he did. And there was nothing wrong with our conversation. Mitch Marner played great for Mike Babcock. I can’t complain one bit, it was unbelievable.

“So then what occurred, although, is I introduced in, and I believe it was Bozy [Tyler Bozak], however I left the Mitch Marner factor on the desk. And then I referred to it and as quickly as I did it, I knew I’d completed the fallacious factor.

“I walked out after talking to Bozy and I said to Mitch: ‘This is what I’ve done. I’ve screwed ya. There was no intent on my part. Do you want me to deal with it in front of the team right there?’ And I shouldn’t have asked him that, I should have just done it.

“Was it fallacious? Yes. Was it my fault? One hundred p.c. Do I personal that? Yeah, however in the event you assume it is a tactic to haze a man or one thing, that is the craziest factor ever. We attempt to make these gamers one of the best we may. Our intention is all the time good. Do we do issues fallacious typically? One hundred p.c.”

Simpson then pressed him on what Franzen said.

“I believed we had a very good relationship,” Babcock responded. “Now, did issues not go nearly as good at occasions? Absolutely. Did I ever, in my thoughts, attempt to bully anyone? That is the craziest factor I’ve ever heard of.

“Now, I also though, didn’t even know what mental health was,” he mentioned, which is an fascinating factor for somebody who took sports activities psychology lessons at McGill University post-graduation after incomes an schooling diploma. “Anytime someone, whether they work for you, whether you’re in a relationship with, feels that — you’re wrong. You never want to cross the line and when you do you want to own it. And if you do, you should own it. But if you didn’t, you shouldn’t own that either.”

Babcock mentioned he did attain out to Franzen however the now-former NHLer didn’t get back to him.

“I’ve coached 34 years. Let’s go 20 guys. Let’s do the math. Lots of players,” he mentioned. “I’ve coached Olympic teams. I’ve changed goalies. I’ve coached veteran teams in the Stanley Cup Final and scratched guys. You’ve made people mad. That’s reality. You know, I’ve coached a lot of teams and had a lot of success, and good people have hired me.

“I did not have a Zoom assembly with Brian Murray earlier than I went to Anaheim. I went to Detroit. Jimmy Nill was my GM on the ’04 world championship. They employed me. Steve Yzerman performed for me and labored with me for 4 years, and he employed me for 2 Olympics. Brendan Shanahan employed me after enjoying for me. Some of this, the scent test doesn’t add up.”

He then went after Sportsnet within the interview when requested if he disputes the tales.

“Oh, yes, but I also, let’s get this clear because you know how you guys can edit this stuff. I’ve tried my very best to treat people right. I still do. You can’t have a family I have, and the opportunities I’ve had without treating people good. Have I crossed the line ever? Absolutely. In saying that, when you get into mental health, that’s a way different program. No one ever should be in that situation. So when you crossed the line you have to own that.”

It is not sounding like Babcock is proudly owning it.

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