It's been a week now that Mike Babcock has passed on the opportunity to coach the Buffalo Sabres in order to become the head coach of their bitter rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Considering the rumors that Buffalo actually offered Babcock more money than Toronto, it has led many to search for the reasons that led the former Red Wings coach to Toronto. Babcock had many reasons to make this decision much to the chagrin of Sabres fans, but I have narrowed down the reasons to 5.
Babcock chose Toronto for many reasons
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
1. Canada- Going back to Canada is very alluring for Canadian people in the hockey world. They want to win in the nation that invented the game. Babcock is from Ontario and although he was very successful in Anaheim and Detroit, but it's just a little more special when you do it at home. Unfortunately for Buffalo, they're on the wrong side of the Niagara River.
2. Center of the Hockey Universe- People may not like it, but Toronto is the Center of the Hockey World. It's the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest city in North America. The NHL's headquarters are there, the Hockey Hall of Fame is there and they have the Maple Leafs, which are the most famous NHL team in the world.
3. Original Six- It's a cliche, but many people in the hockey world make a huge deal about the Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Bruins, and Rangers. I also believe that high level NHL personalities also believe in the aura of the Original Six. Babcock probably did get lured in by the fact that Toronto is a member of this "elite" crew that the NBCSN is so infatuated with.
4. Star Power- This is an intriguing thing. Phil Kessel doesn't fit Babcock's puck possession strategy. Dion Phaneuf is a shell of himself. But this is precisely why Babcock is a good fit. If there is anyone in the NHL that can fix the Leafs core, why can't it be Mike Babcock. The other side of the coin is that Toronto could move these guys as well and bring in other players that will better suit Babcock's needs.
5. Challenge- To be the best you have to welcome challenges and rebuilding the Leafs is most definitely a challenge. Buffalo would be easier simply because of how dominant their prospect pool is. Toronto has very little going for them and don't have a McDavid or Eichel either. If Babcock can change the Leafs into a winner it may just be the greatest coaching achievement in the history of not just the NHL, but in all of sports.
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