The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Mike Babcock and replaced him with Sheldon Keefe.
Babcock had a record of 9-10-4 in 2019-20 for the struggling Leafs, who are 0-5-1 in their last six games, including five straight losses in regulation.
Hired as part of Toronto’s massive rebuild in the spring of 2015, the 56-year-old Babcock went 173-133-45 in his four-plus seasons with Toronto.
After signing the richest coaching contract in NHL history at $50 million US over eight years, Babcock got Toronto to the playoffs the last three straight seasons, but was unable to advance beyond the first round.
The 39-year-old Keefe, who has a long history with Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, was in his fifth season as head coach of the American Hockey league’s Toronto Marlies. He led the team to a Calder Cup championship in 2018.
“Today, we made the decision to relieve Mike Babcock of his coaching duties and named Sheldon Keefe our new head coach,” team president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement. “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.”
“At this time, we collectively felt that it was best to make a change to Sheldon Keefe. Sheldon’s record with the Marlies in terms of development and on-ice success during his time in our organization has compelled us all to feel that he is the right person to take us to the next stage in our evolution.”