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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Mike Babcock on the hot seat in Toronto while Petr Mrazek thrives in Carolina

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Michael Whitaker
Always at the front lines of Detroit Sports.

It’s a tale of opposites for two former members of the Detroit Red Wings this spring.

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Former head coach Mike Babcock is finding himself on the hot seat in Toronto after the Maple Leafs were once again bounced in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the second straight year of losing a Game 7 to the Boston Bruins. Fans and pundits alike are questioning his decisions after the Maple Leafs led the series 3-2 and still found a way to lose. Especially following the deciding Game 7, his decisions of ice time for key players are being heavily scrutinized.

Of course, there have also been rumors about a reported rift between him and young analytically-minded general manager Kyle Dubas.

Babcock hasn’t guided a team past the first round of the playoffs since 2013 when he was still with the Red Wings, and Maple Leafs fans are getting impatient – especially after Babcock signed the richest coaching contract in NHL history in 2015 to put the team over the top.

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However, it’s the exact opposite for the Carolina Hurricanes and former Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek. All he’s done is lead the Hurricanes to a shocking 7-game victory over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals after helping them to their first playoff spot in 10 years. Not a bad thing for a goalie who signed a 1-year “show me” style contract this past summer. He’ll be in line for a hefty raise this summer as an unrestricted free agent.

He was traded from the Red Wings to the Philadelphia Flyers at last season’s trade deadline to help shore up Philadelphia’s crease. However, he was inconsistent with the Flyers and they chose not to retain his services. The Hurricanes opted to sign him to a low-risk, $1.5 million deal this summer to compete with goaltender Scott Darling. However, Darling was eventually waived by the Hurricane, leading the way for Mrazek to take over the crease with veteran backup Curtis McElhinney.

While Babcock and the Maple Leafs face another summer of questions, Mrazek and the Hurricanes are off to the second round of the playoffs against the New York Islanders.

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