The relentless attacks against former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock are another example of what is wrong with sports journalism. A new player is dug up every day – Nazem Kadri the latest – on Babcock’s tactics as coach. The vitriol is then vaguely, insidiously, connected to the racism of Bill Peters.
As I have written previously, it’s the sportswriters – talk about an oxymoron! – that are the root of the problem. Imagine going through their closets of homophobia and ethnocentrism. Ew, David. Indeed, if they were really concerned with the coaching culture in hockey, what of the obvious monsters who barely last 2-3 years per team – Mike Kennan, John Tortorella, Ron Wilson, Randy Carlyle, et al? Why are they not suffering the slings and arrows of this onslaught? Laziness perhaps? Stupidity? Sportswriters are after Babcock because they are pissed off at him. Babcock never gave them the respect they desperately craved. He laughed them off. “Hey, Coach Babcock, why didn’t you give Auston Matthew three more minutes of ice time? Why didn’t you play Spezza on opening night? Why won’t you listen to us, Coach Babcock? We know best!”
The Toronto Maple Leafs are underperforming because they lack discipline. Their elite players – Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Taveras – rely on skill and not discipline. They do not work as a team. They fail to clear the zone. They do not dig in the corners. They forget to take the man. As wonderful as skill might be – especially for an All Star Game – hockey is hockey. It’s tough. It’s hard. There is no pointing fingers. The only one to answer for a loss is oneself. As if any of these sportswriters would know that.