It’s been a whirlwind for former Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, who was dismissed by the Toronto Maple Leafs last month after the team full of offensive talent was clearly underachieving.
Almost immediately after Babcock’s firing in Toronto, multiple reports began to surface about his treatment of his former players. Former Red Wings winger Johan Franzen alleged that Babcock caused him to have a nervous breakdown and that the Cup-winning coach was “the worst person” he’d ever met. Toronto’s Mitch Marner alleged that Babcock embarrassed him in front of the team as a rookie. Former Red Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo alleged that Detroit’s top players would routinely try to convince then-GM Ken Holland to replace him.
And, well, everyone and their mother knows about former defenseman Mike Commodore’s feelings toward him.
But was any of this known to Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, who hired Babcock in 2015 with the richest coaching contract that had ever been given? Apparently not.
“I don’t dispute for a second that Johan is telling an experience that did in fact happen,” Shanahan said. “He and I and many others come from a generation where we didn’t speak about that stuff immediately, and now, I think that players are choosing to speak up more often and I applaud him for having the courage to do that.
“It wasn’t something that I was aware of and it wasn’t even something that I was on the team when this occurred, or even that he had spoken or brought up to me. But the fact that people are taking the time now to get things off their chest, it’s very important.”
Of course, Shanahan already knew Babcock. Shanahan played under him with the Red Wings during the 2005-06 year, Babcock’s first year in Detroit and Shanahan’s last.