Early Hint Shows Just how Much Mike Babcock was Not a Fan of Mitch Marner

Elliot Ben Jacob
June 10, 2023  (10:44)

A Rocky Relationship: Mitch Marner and Mike Babcock

The contentious relationship between Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs' leading forward, and their former coach Mike Babcock has been in the public eye for some time now.
Babcock's controversial handling of Marner two years prior was a focal point of concern, providing a clear understanding of why Babcock's tenure as head coach was cut short.
When the incident came to light, it was revealed that Babcock had coerced 19-year-old Marner into ranking his team members based on their work ethic.
This act of singling out players, especially for their perceived poor performance, sparked widespread criticism. Babcock faced the brunt of public outrage, accused of instigating discord among his team members by putting them against one another.
Although Babcock apologized to Marner, acknowledging his mistake, the incident was deemed entirely avoidable. Public sentiment solidified around the fact that the young player should not have been put through such a predicament.

Behind the Draft: Babcock's Reluctance to Choose Marner

Interestingly, Sportsnet's Jeff Marek unveiled that Mike Babcock was keen on drafting a defenseman for the Maple Leafs back in 2015, contrary to Mark Hunter's preference for Mitch Marner. Hunter, who was well-acquainted with Marner's abilities, wanted him on the roster. However, Babcock was not on the same page.
Eventually, the former General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, backed Hunter, and Marner was selected. This sequence of events led fans to speculate that Marner had a strike against him from the outset of his career with the Leafs under Babcock's reign.

Marner Triumphs While Babcock Seeks New Opportunities

Despite the friction, Marner was drafted fourth overall by Toronto, while defensemen Noah Hanafin and Ivan Provorov were picked by the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers respectively.
Today, the Leafs' fans rejoice in the fact that Marner was the chosen one and he continues to be a significant part of the team. On the other hand, Mike Babcock, no longer associated with the Leafs, is reportedly trying to persuade the Blue Jackets to consider him for their vacant head coach position.