Did you know Mike Babcock is a coaching genius? That’s what they (and he) will tell you.
Fair enough. Then go ahead and explain the Babcock approach to overtime.
If the Maple Leafs miss the playoffs this year, the primary reason will be their horrible results in overtime games and shootouts. When it comes to overtime, no coach is as clueless, and as gutless as Mike Babcock. Once overtime arrives, it’s time to put the pluggers and grinders on the bench, and go for it. Get your skill players out on the ice, let them wing it, and take your best shot at winning the much needed extra point.
But Babcock doesn’t coach to win. In overtime, he coaches to “not lose.”
Think not? How else do you explain the repeated overuse of offensively-useless slugs like Leo Komarov and Zack Hyman in overtime? On three occasions this year, Babcock has employed the hands-of-stone Komarov in overtime, far more than many of the team’s skilled players. On each occasion the move has backfired and the team has lost. On two occasions, the supposedly defensively sound Komarov has been the main goat on the losing goal, by allowing opposing snipers to blow him off like a hanky in a hurricane.
Babcock lovers will point to a recent overtime showdown with the New York Rangers. There was Hyman and Komarov on the ice together, and they damn near scored. Yeah, okay. Isn’t that the point? Even when gifted with a golden opportunity to put the game away, neither has the skill to get the job done. So, they came close? This isn’t horseshoes. Close doesn’t count.
If the definition of insanity is repeating the same stupid, ridiculous, laughable mistake and hoping for a better result, Mike Babcock’s approach to overtime is insane. Hardly the mark of a genius.