Mike Babcock

Full autonomy: Lamoriello’s place in Leafs’ chain of command


How would a front office that once pondered not naming a GM at all handle the addition of an executive who’s accustomed to wielding Zeus-like control?

When the shock of the Toronto Maple Leafs naming Lou Lamoriello as their new general manager wore off, people began wondering how, exactly, everything would work. It seems simple enough, though: Lamoriello will wield the typical stopping power of a GM, answering only to Brendan Shanahan, as TSN noted from his presser:

“That’s what I’m told,” Lamoriello said. “I report to Brendan. And the other people report to me.”

While Lamoriello noted that he’s “not going to be here for a lifetime,” the 72-year-old’s three-year contract is at least part of the argument against this being a transitional hire (with young assistant GM Kyle Dubas potentially taking the reins).

Instead, it sounds the future of that executive position is quite open-ended:

It’s truly been a drastic couple of years of changes with Shanahan in charge, as the team replaced Randy Carlyle with Mike Babcock, Dave Nonis with Lamoriello, seemed to do a 180 on analytics and even traded Phil Kessel.

As much as executives preach patience, it’s tough to shake the feeling that the drama’s just starting.

Here’s video of the press conference:

No GM, no problem for the Maple Leafs?


People can get pretty obsessed with job titles in sports, especially in a city where blame and attention are in such large supply as they are in Toronto.

Maple Leafs executive Brendan Shanahan is restructuring the team to the beat of his own drum, though, it seems … and apparently naming an official general manager really isn’t a big deal right now. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston passes along this intriguing bit from Shanahan on Tuesday:

A gut reaction is that this is a serious nod of approval for assistant GM Kyle Dubas, especially just days after HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reported that trade calls are going through the young executive:

The Maple Leafs sent out a communiqué last week indicating any team wanting to talk trade should go through assistant GM Kyle Dubas. This led to speculation maybe Dubas would be elevated to the full-time GM position, but that appears premature. Director of player personnel Mark Hunter is responsible for draft selections, so it doesn’t look like Toronto wanted to add another 72-ounce Lone Star steak to his plate. What it does say, though, is Brendan Shanahan really trusts Dubas. That’s big responsibility at this time in the franchise’s existence.

As you can see from that excerpt, Dubas isn’t controlling every facet of roster-building, as Hunter seemingly runs the draft show.

Maybe it really means that, for the time being, the Leafs boast a GM-by-committee approach?

Along with Dubas and Hunter, Shanahan likely holds significant sway (possibly the most). Even so, deep-pocketed new head coach Mike Babcock probably has some serious input into the makeup of the team, too. One can picture any number of ways the Maple Leafs may make decisions, and compartmentalizing them could very well allow people to play to their strengths.

One thing seems clear: this franchise is advancing well beyond the days when they seemingly didn’t spend a penny on analytics.


Speaking of spending money and doing things a GM might do, the Maple Leafs made it official that they’ve signed Petter Granberg and Tim Erixon to one-year deals while Zach Hyman received a two-year, two-way contract.

Leafs fill out coaching staff, hire Hiller, Smith and Brewer


The Toronto Maple Leafs filled out Mike Babcock’s coaching staff naming three assistant coaches on Tuesday.

Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer, who spent time with Babcock in Detroit, join the Leafs.

Toronto also added D.J. Smith to their coaching staff. Smith coached the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup victory last month.

Additionally, Matthew J. Herring joins the club as the team’s new head strength and conditioning coach.

“I’m excited to have them join the organization,” Babcock said in a statement. “We have a lot of work ahead of us but are all thrilled to be part of the Maple Leafs. We’re grateful for the cooperation afforded to us by the Detroit Red Wings, Oshawa Generals and San Antonio Spurs.”

Hiller spent the 2014-15 season on Babcock’s staff in Detroit overseeing the club’s power play. Prior to joining the Wings, the 46-year-old spent five seasons as head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans.

“I’m excited at the opportunity of working again with Mike, and to also add to the value that both D.J. and Andrew bring,” Hiller said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many great organizations – most recently the Red Wings – and am grateful for the chance to now join the Leafs.”

Brewer spent the 2014-15 season coordinating the team’s coaching staff in Detroit. Prior to joining the Wings, the 29-year-old spent three years with Hockey Canada as their video coach for several international events including Canada’s gold-medal team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Smith led the Generals to a 51-11-2-4 record in 2014-15 on route to winning the Ontario Hockey League Championship and Memorial Cup. The 38-year-old won the OHL’s Coach of the Year award during the 2013-14 season after leading Oshawa to a regular season record of 42-20-0-6.

Herring joins the Leafs after spending the past two seasons as an athletic performance associate with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. With the Spurs, his responsibilities included strength and conditioning, sports science and nutrition. The 29-year-old was a part of the San Antonio organization during their NBA Championship season in 2013-14.

Report: Leafs won’t send 2015 pick to Wings for Babcock


When the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Mike Babcock as their new head coach, part of the deal included the Leafs sending a third-round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings as compensation.

According to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, the Wings have been informed that the Leafs will not be sending their 2015 third round pick to Detroit.

Toronto now has the option of sending a third-round pick in 2016 or 2017.

The Leafs hold the 65th selection at the 2015 NHL Draft which goes June 26-27 in Florida.

Related: Red Wings to announce Blashill hiring during Tuesday press conference

Red Wings to announce Blashill hiring during Tuesday press conference


The Detroit Red Wings didn’t officially say what announcement will come on Tuesday afternoon, but it will clearly involve Jeff Blashill’s promotion to head coach.

Blashill, 41, enjoyed great success behind the bench of the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. With Mike Babcock headed to Toronto, the time seems right for him to become the second-youngest head coach in the NHL.

Members of the Grand Rapids Griffins spoke of “mixed emotions” after exit interviews on Monday, but they also praised the run they enjoyed with their ascending bench boss to MLive.com.

That same publication provides a detailed look back at Blashill’s rise from college hockey goalie to rising coaching talent (and now Red Wings head coach).

Even early on as a “solid goalie at the Division I level” with Ferris State, it seemed like he had the makings of a coach. Bob Daniels (his head coach at the time) remarked at his skills as Blashill ascended from a lowly position as a graduate assistant to an assistant gig.

“He understands the X’s and O’s. He knows how to break down video. He has a game plan,” Daniels said. “He’s able to paint a picture so that players have confidence.”

The NHL has seen a nice run of AHL coaches who quickly found success at the next level. Blashill has big shoes to fill in Detroit, yet at least it seems like he’s shown serious promise in his rise to this position.

In other Red Wings coaching news: