Mike Babcock’s long coaching playlist includes D.J.
|Toronto Star 17 Sep 2019 at 22:43|
ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said he is proud of D.J. Smith, who got his first NHL head coaching job with the Ottawa Senators. Smith had been an assistant under Babcock in Toronto the last four years. He ran the defence and penalty kill.
“D.J. did a real good job for us,” said Babcock. “When he first interviewed with me, he (hoped) he’d have an opportunity like that, put his time in. He sent me a real nice text about feeling really prepared and confident. You’re trying to develop people in the organization. I’m real proud of the fact that lots of my guys have moved on to become head coaches.”
It’s an impressive list that includes Jeff Blashill in Detroit, Bill Peters in Calgary, Todd McLellan in Los Angeles and Paul MacLean, who coached the Senators for four years.
SPLIT DECISION: Asked Tuesday whether he thought — at least at this stage of his career — exhibition games were a drag, John Tavares couldn’t have disagreed more. “These games are crucial to get ready to play,” said Tavares. “You see guys that don’t play in many exhibition games or that miss time in camp, it takes time to get that rhythm back. You haven’t played in four or five months. That’s a long time. It’s a way to get back into that routine, that feeling … You’re playing in the greatest league in the world at this level. You never take anything for granted.” Teammate Andreas Johnsson had a different point of view: “It’s more important this year than last year to get in the system, so this year it’s more important, but um, what I personally feel about exhibition games: waste of time.”
MORE FOR MOORE: Trevor Moore, who played 25 games in his rookie year last season, isn’t taking for granted anything in this Maple Leafs camp. Pencilled in for third- or fourth-line work, Moore knows the competition for jobs is high. “For me, I’m not going to get out there to feel it out. I want to get out there and prove that I belong. They added some good players here, which is good. They added depth. It’s my job to prove I can contribute. If I do that, I’ll stay.” He has been practising on a line with 16-year NHL veteran Jason Spezza and Marlie Pierre Engvall. “It’s competitive. You’ve got to show (what you can do),” Babcock said of Moore. “Initially, you get in (the NHL) and you think you’re in for life. The great thing about the NHL is, you’re in for that year and you have to keep going.”
HUDSON’S WAY: Hudson Elynuik has had a pretty good few months. The 21-year-old former draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes signed with the Marlies last season after five years with the WHL Spokane Chiefs. He split time with the AHL team and the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers, who won the Kelly Cup. And he survived the first round of cuts, meaning he got to work out with the Leafs at Mile One Centre, home of the Growlers. “Any time you get to win a championship, that opens up a lot of eyes,” said Elynuik, a six-foot-five centre from Calgary. “The support we had throughout the whole playoffs was unbelievable. My time here was very fun.”