There aren’t many active coaches with a better resume than Mike Babcock, but even after dealing with the weight of leading Team Canada to gold (twice) in the Olympics and guiding the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup championship, he admits that the bench job in Toronto “scares the crap out of (him),” per the Toronto Sun.
And he meant that as a positive.
Venturing away from a franchise he’s grown familiar with to an intense market hungry for success after a decade of nearly uninterrupted failure was a bold decision on his part and one he made with eyes wide open, but he thinks the fear associated with it will get him “dialed in.”
At the same time, he is putting it all in perspective.
“The reality is, I’m the coach of this team,” Babcock said. “I’m not carrying the weight of the world on my back.
“I’m going to go to work in the morning. I’m going to work as hard as I can. I’m going to go home to my family and then the next day I’m going to do it again. But if you think I’m carrying around the weight of the world, I didn’t do it when I coached Canada at the Olympics (and) I didn’t do it when I coached Detroit.”
With the Leafs engaged in what might prove to be a long-term rebuilding process, this season isn’t likely to be about competing for a playoff spot. Instead this is an opportunity for Babcock to establish his system and do his part to help instill a culture change that involves a team-first mentality. So while fans might not rate this season in terms of wins and losses, they will be looking for evidence that a foundation is being set that will eventually lead to success.
In the short-term, that’s likely how Babcock will be judged. Eventually, more will be expected.