Mike Babcock regrets talking about McDavid’s ice time after earlier game, says it wasn’t right


Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs are in Edmonton on Tuesday night for their final meeting of the season with Connor McDavid and the Oilers (you can watch it on NBCSN).

When the two teams met earlier this season on Nov. 1, the Maple Leafs were 3-2 winners after they successfully shut down McDavid, limiting him to zero points and a minus-2 in close to 23 minutes of ice-time.

After that game Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock talked about his team’s ability to slow McDavid down. He specifically referred to the amount of ice-time the Oilers’ captain had during the course of the game, perhaps suggesting that coach Todd McLellan had worn McDavid down too early in the game by playing him more than eight minutes in the first period.

On Tuesday, before the rematch, Babcock made it clear that he regretted the comments, calling them “ridiculous and not right,” and that he later called McLellan to clear things up.

“It’s all on me. All my fault. Not my intent, but it does not matter what your intent is,” Babcock said on Tuesday when asked about his post-game comments earlier this month. He also acknowledged that Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan had brought the comments to his attention, and then when he looked back at them a day later he realized they were not right

“Todd McLellan is going to be friends with Mike Babcock and my family for a long time after hockey, so … don’t get in the way of yourself and keep your mouth shut,” Babcock said.

McLellan was an assistant coach in Detroit for a period of time under Babcock.

If you missed them the first time around, here is part of what Babcock had to say after the Nov. 1 game.

The two big ones in there are probably, “You jam a guy out there every shift, and like three in a row, it’s hard to have the same pop.” And then later, “I never expected the guy would play that much, he is a good player and all that, but so is Nugent-Hopkins.”

The only games this season where McDavid logged more minutes were the team’s season-opening 7-4 win over Calgary, and an overtime game later in November against the New York Islanders.

What’s kind of funny about this is that McDavid’s ice-time was limited it a bit in the games that followed, with three of his lowest ice-time totals of the season coming in the four games that followed that Nov. 1 game against Toronto. That includes two games where he played fewer than 19 minutes.

McDavid enters play on Tuesday as the NHL’s leading scorer with 29 points in 23 games. He is the only player in the NHL right now on track to top 100 points this season.