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Babcock will return as Maple Leafs coach next season: report

GM Dubas did not commit to bringing him back immediately after first-round exit from playoffs

by NHL.com @NHLdotcom

TORONTO -- Mike Babcock will return as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs next season, general manager Kyle Dubas said Monday.

"We're all in on Mike and Mike is all in on us," Dubas told TSN. "We've had productive management meetings as an organization, and Mike and I have had some really good meetings as well. Since the season ended, it's our very strong belief Mike is the one to lead us, that's the reality of it."

Dubas did not commit to bringing back Babcock for another season when he addressed the media at the Maple Leafs' locker cleanout day April 25, two days after they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round.

"I think the way I look at that is [team president Brendan Shanahan] has to decide on me first, to do an evaluation of me, which I think any organization would be best to do," Dubas said at the time. "And then once that's done, we evaluate everybody. We could win the Stanley Cup, and it would be the same discussion of evaluating where we're at and are we content and are we moving in the right direction?

"So I think with how fluid the situation is, I wouldn't give any guarantee to anybody in our whole organization, starting with me."

Babcock, who is entering the fifth season of an eight-year contract he signed May 20, 2015, guided the Maple Leafs to a 46-28-8 record in 2018-19, reaching 100 points for the second consecutive season.

But Toronto has failed to advance after qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past three seasons, losing in Game 7 of the first round to Boston each of the past two years.

"Mike and I talk every day, sometimes longer than each of us wish, I'd imagine. We have an ongoing discussion every day. We didn't reach our expectations," Dubas said April 25. "We had [100] points and we went to Game 7 against the Bruins in the first round, so it's tough to say it was tangible progress. I think anyone watching the series would say we played a lot better than the team did a year before, but we have to continue to improve everything we do. It's up to me to work with Mike to continue to have him improve and with his staff.

"That's one of the best parts about working here, is that there is nobody staunch in their stance that what we're doing is great and we can't change it. We know we have to improve and get better."

In four seasons with Babcock as coach, the Maple Leafs are 164-123-41.

Dubas told TSN that although Babcock will return, there are areas where he expects to see the coaching staff evolve, but he did not get into specifics.

"There are things we need to improve upon. There are things we need to do to adapt and evolve and continue to get better," Dubas said. "As an organization, we believe we can do that together."

Tweet from @TSNBobMcKenzie: Mike Babcock will be back as head coach in TOR. Leaf GM Kyle Dubas, when asked about Babcock���s status:���We���re all in on Mike and Mike is all in on us. We���ve had productive management meetings as an organization and Mike and I have had some really good meetings as well...

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