The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a very disappointing stretch with head coach Mike Babcock behind the bench, and have not made it past the opening round of the playoffs since he took over.
After their most recent loss to the Boston Bruins in the first round in seven games, many experts and fans began speculating on whether or not Babcock will return as coach next season. While that seemed to have been confirmed, that does not mean that GM Kyle Dubas doesn't have someone in line to take over if and when Babcock's tenure is done.
Friedman on Sheldon Keefe - If someone wanted him as their head coach, I don't think Toronto would stand in his way. However, Dubas and Keefe are tight, and barring something strange happening, Keefe is in line to replace Mike Babcock as head coach of the Maple Leafs. #CoachWatch— WGR 550 (@WGR550) May 13, 2019
Sheldon Keefe is currently the head coach of the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, and led them to a Calder Cup Championship in 2018. Keefe and Dubas are reportedly very close, and Keefe is reportedly the next in line to be the head coach for the Maple Leafs.
Keefe has been the head coach of the Marlies for the past four years and has a 189-87-28 with three playoff berths on his resume. Before Toronto, he was the head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for three seasons.
Mike Babcock will be back as head coach in TOR. Leaf GM Kyle Dubas, when asked about Babcock’s status:— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 6, 2019
“We’re all in on Mike and Mike is all in on us. We’ve had productive management meetings as an organization and Mike and I have had some really good meetings as well...
As for Babcock, he has been the head coach of the Leafs for the past four years, and has not had the success that Keefe had in the AHL. He has brought Toronto to the postseason in three of four years, but never won a series.
Babcock has a 164-123-41 record since joining the Leafs, but has yet to fulfill the expectations placed on him. The Leafs were seen as potential contenders for the Stanley Cup last season, and they were once again disappointed. The clock could very well be ticking on his tenure, and the organization wouldn't be wrong to take action.