This Story of Mike Babcock Going Full ‘Mean Girls’ with Mitch Marner During his Rookie Season is a Massive Indictment of Him as a Coach, Never Mind a Person
To anyone with a mind that hasn’t long been afflicted by a disease that’s damn near as antiquated as smallpox, with that being the cancer that is half-witted hockey culture, the important thing to note here is that Mike Babcock, while being one of the most “well-respected” coaches in the NHL, had the social grace of Regina George while filling the role self-important professor for the Toronto Mean Gir…I mean, Maple Leafs.
Above all else, asking a rookie to create something that’s the sports' equivalent of a “Burn Book” with an unspoken intent to share its contents with the veteran teammates with which you, yourself, harbor a grudge is the type of asinine crime against human etiquette that’s resourced Larry David’s writing process for going on ten seasons post-Seinfeld. It was a clear (and obnoxiously-timed) abuse of power from an old stubborn bastard who failed to adapt and evolve psychologically as a sport that has an odd obsession with ornery assholes passed him by. That’s what we should be directing our focus to.
However, since that seems pretty indisputable and obvious, I think I’d rather focus on what that level of mental manipulation says about him as a coach, as opposed to him as a person. This millennial thinks it makes him a crappy one that is now incapable of relating to players and deserved to get canned far prior to leaning heavily on fourth liners en route to yet another underwhelming playoff exit. Honestly, from a strategic perspective, what was the best case scenario? That, try as he may, he failed to combust his own team’s chemistry by way of wide-spread social sabotage?
The truth is that the goon squad of grandpas governing a league that’s laughably more skilled than the one that damaged the brains of their peers, both physically and mentally, could spin emotional torture as the building of toughness with a little bit of elbow grease. Unfortunately, the fact that we only just heard this story now speaks to how hard of a sell it would have been to claim that a talented team that's been getting bullied, in familiar fashion, by the Bruins every postseason was successfully forged by the fire of over-the-top tyranny.
Aside from this being an act of immaturity you’d expect out of an unsupervised locker room at a highly hormonal high school in an exaggerated TV drama, the job security of a coach almost unconditionally comes down to wins and losses. You don’t exactly need half-a-dozen degrees as a head shrink to conclude that creating resentment amongst your own roster is not the way to get the most out of it. Never mind this story speaking strongly to Mike Babcock being a diabolical dictator and an insufferable infant of an ego maniac. It flat out screams to him being an unqualified leader of young men that are too enlightened to be brainwashed by good ol’ boy bullshit in what's unquestionably been a refreshing new era of sport where we appreciate athletes being afforded a bare-minimum amount of common courtesy from their coaches. I say so facetiously, but - relatively speaking - what a brave new world!