Maple Leafs fire former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock
Mike Babcock had more wins that any coach in Red Wings history, but he will not get the opportunity to earn that distinction with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto fired Babcock on Wednesday after Toronto’s 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday. It was the Maple Leafs’ sixth straight loss and dropped the team to 9-10-4.
He will be replaced by Sheldon Keefe, who had been the coach of Toronto’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlboros.
“Today, we made the decision to relieve Mike Babcock of his coaching duties and named Sheldon Keefe our new head coach,” Leafs president and former Red Wing Brendan Shanahan said in a press release. “Over parts of the last five seasons, Mike has played an integral role in changing the direction of our franchise.
“Mike’s commitment and tireless work ethic has put our organization in a better place, and we are extremely grateful and appreciative of the foundation he has helped us build here.”
But in the past three seasons, Babcock has not been able to get that foundation out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Babcock left Detroit after the 2014-15 season to sign a record-breaking eight-year, $50-million deal to coach the Maple Leafs.
He coached the Red Wings for 10 seasons (2005-06 to 2014-15), leading them to the Stanley Cup in 2008 and back to the Cup Final in 2009, where they lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team Detroit had defeated in six games the previous season. The Wings also reached the Western Conference Final in 2007.
Local players picked for Youth Winter Olympics
Five 2004 birthdate players with Detroit-area organizations were picked for the team that will represent the United States at the 2020 Youth Winter Olympics, which will be held Jan. 9-22, 2020, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The players are defensemen Hunter Brzustewicz (Washington Township) of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and Tyler Duke (Strongville, Ohio) of Compuware, and forwards Culton Gauthier (Northville) of Compuware, Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Nebraska) of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and Frank Nazar (Mt. Clemens) of HoneyBaked.
One of the assistant caches will be Kevin Reiter of Plymouth.
Hockey Canada changes from names to ages for division
Hockey Canada has approved a regulation change proposed by the board of directors to revise the naming of the age divisions used in minor hockey across Canada during its Winter Congress in Montreal.
Beginning next season, the divisions will be referred to as Under-7, Under -9, Under-11, Under 13, Under-15, Under-18 and Under 21.
The issue generated attention last year when the parent of a son with dwarfism noticed the term “midget” on a banner at a mall.
“We believe everyone should feel welcome in the game,” said Michael Brind’Amour, chair of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors on the group’s website. “And, in our on-going effort to make hockey more inclusive, the members at the Hockey Canada annual meeting determined that the names of our age Divisions will change.”
USA Hockey teams have been designated by age since 2016.