Canucks roundtable: Should they hire Mike Babcock?

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5: Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock returns to the locker room before playing the Los Angeles Kings at the Scotiabank Arena on November 5, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5: Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock returns to the locker room before playing the Los Angeles Kings at the Scotiabank Arena on November 5, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks are have lost seven of their last eight games. Should they make a bold move and replace Travis Green with Mike Babcock?

After an impressive 9-3-2 start to the 2019-20 season, the Vancouver Canucks have hit a bump in the road, dropping eight of their past nine games.

It may feel too early to hit the panic button here, but Vancouver simply has to turn it around in the next few weeks. Otherwise, it could prompt general manager Jim Benning to make a drastic change or two.

Could that mean moving on from head coach Travis Green? There aren’t any indicators that the Canucks will go that route, but his seat will start to heat up if the team doesn’t regain its October form.

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock after a sluggish start to the season. He’s a Stanley Cup winner with two Olympic gold medals and 700 coaching wins on his resume.

I asked our staff here at The Canuck Way if they believe the Canucks should consider hiring Babcock — be it as the new head coach or possibly in an executive role. Here is what we had to say.

Alex Hoegler

I wrote here that the Canucks may have to make a coaching change if they don’t turn things around soon. The roster too much talent and depth to remain mired in mediocrity.

Now, if Vancouver hasn’t turned things around by the new year, should they can Green? And should they hire Babcock in his replacement? There’s a strong argument to be made for both, but I wouldn’t make the move yet.

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Babcock’s situation in Vancouver would be quite different compared to the one he entered in Toronto four years ago. The Maple Leafs had gutted their roster and were planning to rebuild long-term. The Canucks aren’t doing that now. They’re trying to make the playoffs.

If Babcock couldn’t go far into the playoffs with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares, I’m not sure he’s the right for for the Canucks, who are still in a bit of a retooling stage.

As we saw during his time with the Detroit Red Wings, and for Team Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, Babcock is simply better off coaching a veteran-filled team that’s simply ready to win now. The Maple Leafs weren’t that team when he arrived, and Vancouver isn’t quite ready to compete for Stanley Cups.

So no, I would pass on Babcock. I can’t see him being the right coach until the young stars have developed more experience over these next couple of years, but I’m sure he’ll have been hired by another team by then.

Bailey Broadbent

I like what Travis Green has done with this Canucks team for the most part, but in the midst of yet another tough November stretch something eventually has to give. Francesco Aquilini has made it clear he wants to see big steps made this season, and after a promising first 15 games the team has taken a major step back.

If the Canucks fail to turn things around within the next couple games, Green should take the fall and be replaced by Mike Babcock. Say what you want about fairness, but ownership seems set on Jim Benning’s work and is eager to watch meaningful games in April. With Mike Babcock missing the playoffs just once over the last 15 seasons, one can start to see why he might be exactly what Benning needs to keep his job — Aquilini needs to make the playoffs.

Brayden Ursel

Mike Babcock was making more money as a coach than any current Canucks player on the roster. Why? Babcock is hands down one of best hockey coaches the game has ever seen. He has won at all levels of the game, but in my personal opinion I believe he’s been gifted strong teams, and maybe his coaching style is out of date.

Travis Green is doing a fine job coaching the Canucks, and it would be fitting that Green sees Benning’s plan run its course. Green and company will dig themselves out of this mess, and it’s just not the right time to be looking for a new coach. If we were one year further down the road, maybe I’d have a different answer

Joshua Rey

No, the Vancouver Canucks should not fire Travis Green and hire Mike Babcock. I don’t think he would be a fit, because he should go to a team that is in Cup contention. From what I have heard from Leafs fans, Babcock takes an old school approach in his playing style and is quite stubborn, and he refuses to change his philosophy. Basically, Babcock is the Arsene Wenger of hockey. It is a no from me.

Sean Warren

Absolutely not. Babcock was unable to connect with the young core in Toronto and his stubbornness and ego appear to be off-putting for his players. He is also far removed from his previous successes, having progressed beyond the first round only once since his Stanley Cup Final loss to the Penguins in 2009. W

ith the Canucks wanting to continually get younger, I find it difficult to fathom a marriage between them and Babcock. Travis Green hasn’t lost the room and a little losing streak shouldn’t set Vancouver into a panic at this juncture.

Owen Gibbs

The Canucks would be unwise to bring in Mike Babcock, even in an advisory role. Babcock is an old-school coach, whose coaching style and preferred strategies do not mesh well with a young, rebuilding team built on speed and skill.

The issue in Toronto, among others, was that while his roster was very talented, the likes of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner were not suited to the style of game that Babcock is known for, and the Maple Leafs were unable to make it beyond the first round of the playoffs in each of his four-and-a-bit years there. While not as loaded, the Canucks are a relatively similar team to the Leafs team that fell into Babcock’s lap, so many of the same problems that plagued the Leafs may translate to the Canucks as well.

light. Related Story. Canucks: Is head coach Travis Green on the hot seat?

Furthermore, with the Canucks’ current November skid, Travis Green may be on the hot seat, and our our very own Alex Hoegler wrote an article on the matter the day of Babcock’s firing. It may be tempting to imagine a coach with Babcock’s pedigree stepping into Green’s role, but the two have a history of making the same coaching mistakes, from overplaying the fourth line to overworking top defencemen and playing backup goalies sparingly, a dangerous prospect for the Canucks with Thatcher Demko on the rise.

Finally, Babcock has a reputation for being somewhat arrogant and bullish. He was famously responsible for pushing Mike Commodore out of Detroit and clashing with Chris Chelios. The Canucks have already received the John Tortorella experience and we all remember how that went, so it’s hard to see how giving Babcock a try would go well.

Drew Nazareth

While very tempting, the Canucks should not fire Green and replace him with Babcock, but instead bring him in as an adviser to the team. Say what you want about Babcock (the person, coaching style, etc.), but the man has ‘winning’ in his DNA.

Many have argued that the only reason he has won so much is because his teams have had a lot of star power. Find me any championship team devoid of a deep roster and I will find you a liar!

Even if a team is loaded with All-Stars, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a championship (just have a gander at the mighty Tampa Lightning of yester-season and their plethora of 90-plus point players).

Next. Canucks must take advantage of their division. dark

Coaching is an art, and a quick visit to Babcock’s Wikipedia page would show that he is the only coach in history to have won “six distinct national or international titles.” That takes some serious skill. Now why wouldn’t you want a guy like that in your organization?