Mike Babcock is a confident guy.
The Toronto Maple Leafs head coach has won a Stanley Cup, two Olympic gold medals, a World Cup, and nearly 600 games in the NHL, so you can understand why.
He’s also usually a great quote for the media, so he’s pretty much the total package.
But, by his own admission, he stepped over the line on Monday.
When asked by a reporter at practice why he wasn’t going to keep Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner together on line after their success in Saturday’s game, he had this to say:
“When you get to coach the team, you get to do what you want. When I’m coaching, I’m going to do what I want. I like to win every night, that’s what I try to do. So I try to put the right people together for that.”
Certainly that was a little bit condescending, because of course he wants to win and gets to make the decisions. The reporter asking the question was looking for insight into his decision making.
The fact that the question was asked by a woman, given that female reporters face a number of unfair challenges to their credibility that their male counterparts don’t, likely made it worse.
The question gets asked at the 1:41 mark of the video below:
The media can be and should be open to criticism, but not in this case. And Babcock knew it.
Perhaps it was in his head as the Maple Leafs hosted the NHL’s worst team later that night. The Leafs had a very poor performance against the Arizona Coyotes, losing 4-1 on home ice.
As the Leafs coach opened his post-game media conference, he began by apologizing for his behaviour at practice.
“Before we start here, there was a lady, Rosie, that asked me a question. I saw my response today, it was embarrassing. I was a jackass,” Babcock said, adding that he will apologize to her individually when he sees her in person. “That’s not the right way to treat anybody. Disrespectful. I saw it later and it was disrespectful.”
It’s not often you get a public apology, presumably one that wasn’t forced, from an NHL coach to a media member. Good on Babcock for trying to own up to his mistake.