Babcock says he and GM Dubas are on the same page

Babcock says he and GM Dubas are on the same page
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock says he and general manager Kyle Dubas have spoken about reports this week that their relationship is tense over player personnel and that it may not survive in the long run should the club fail to advance beyond a round or two in the playoffs.

In a wide-ranging scrum after practice Friday, Babcock also said the two are on the same page and everything is fine.

Leafs head coach Mike Babcock says he and general manager Kyle Dubas cleared the air after reports of a rift in their relationship surfaced.  (Bruce Bennett / GETTY IMAGES)

Babcock was quoted last week suggesting the Leafs do not do as good a job as other teams when it comes to building player depth. Toronto was in the midst of losing four of five games, a slide precipitated by its worst defensive performance of the season.

At the same time, the Leafs were without two key defenceman — Jake Gardiner (back) and Travis Dermott (shoulder). Dermott practised with the team Friday while Gardiner is back on the ice, skating with skills coaches.

As for those comments last week, Babcock said he wasn’t intending to offend anyone.

“I didn’t hear anything until I was walking to the press conference in Nashville, and (Leafs PR) handed it to me, said you better read this, and I said, ‘I don’t have the time. What did it say?’ He said speculation and some things …

“You know it’s interesting. My first GM in the NHL was a gentleman by the name of Bryan Murray, and one of the first things he told me as a coach, and as a GM, don’t get in between you, and if you do, you’re in bigger trouble, so that relationship has always been important. So whatever people speculate or think, I don’t believe it’s the case,” Babcock said.

“(Dubas) and I talk all the time, we’ve talked since this has happened, and how would I say it, if any of my comments in any way … and I’ve read the article, and I don’t read it like that (saying relationship is poor and can’t survive) … at all, but if any of my comments in any way hurt anybody, and we talked about this with players, and you, if anyone’s wife reads the comments the next day, and they feel hurt, you’ve (media) done the wrong thing. Not that’s my intent.

“One of my comments was depth, depth in the organization, and again, we keep improving our depth, we all know it, Duby is trying to do it, Jim Paliafito, our scouts, we’re all trying to do it, to be like these teams, I mean, Tampa, to me is just the model of what depth is. If there was any slap at anyone, it sure wasn’t intended ...”

Babcock also heard about comments made by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk on Friday morning in Ottawa, questioning the Leafs’ rebuild. In his comments, Melnyk said “someone (in Leafs management) forgot defence ...,” a direct reference to Babcock’s earlier depth comments.

“We got people questioning everything we do and one of the great things about our organization is we have so much fan support about what we do because you guys (media) question everything we do,” Babcock said Friday. “You get paid to question, you get paid to sell … that’s what your jobs are, so whatever you got to do, I don’t spend time worrying about those things.

“As far as … we got an unbelievable owner here in Mr. Tanenbaum, and we’re blessed to have him. How’s that.”
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