The big news in the hockey world revolves around Toronto. The Maple Leafs fired Mike Babcock on Wednesday after four and a quarter years as head coach.
Given Toronto’s presence in the Atlantic Division, Babcock’s dismissal certainly impacts the Boston Bruins. But how exactly?
First off, we can’t help but think about the matchups between the Bruins and Babcock’s Leafs. Is there any team more responsible for Babcock’s demise than Boston?
The Bruins and Maple Leafs met in the first round in the playoffs each of the last two seasons. Boston, as we all know, emerged victorious both times.
If Toronto won even one of those game seven matchups, would Babcock still be head coach? Probably. The failure to reach the second round remains one of the biggest reasons why Toronto let him go.
Anyway, let’s get back to how Toronto’s decision to fire Babcock affects the Bruins. The results could either be good or bad for Boston.
Why Toronto’s new coach can be good for Boston
The change in head coach could turn Toronto’s already-subpar season into total disarray. What if new coach Sheldon Keefe isn’t ready for the challenge? What if Toronto’s top players don’t adjust to a new system?
The Leafs are already nine points behind the Bruins. If this head coaching change backfires, they’ll never catch up.
We all assumed Boston and Toronto would meet again this spring in the playoffs. Right now, this seems unlikely, and a new coach might make it impossible.
Why Toronto’s new coach can be bad for Boston
A new head coach, however, could help turn things around for the struggling Maple Leafs. Nothing can jumpstart a team like a change in coach…especially when someone it involves a big name like Babcock.
There’s a chance that the coaching change fires up the Leafs and helps them inch closer to Boston in the standings. Remember when the Bruins fired Claude Julien and replaced him with Bruce Cassidy? Boston responded with a strong finish to the season and a playoff berth.
What’s the final verdict? A coaching change in Toronto probably won’t change all that much between the Bruins and Leafs.
Toronto’s biggest problems are on the ice, not behind the bench. The Leafs simply don’t have the depth to handle a team like the Bruins. Boston’s bottom six will continue to dominate Toronto’s bottom six.
Here’s the deal: Toronto’s dismissal of Babcock highlights what we already know. The Bruins are better than the Leafs, and no coaching change will change that right now.