Mike Babcock: The Worst Person Johan Franzen Ever Met

In light of the allegations and anecdotes that have been piling up, are we now supposed to wonder if Mike Babcock is a good person?  I suppose that was the intent when Johan Franzen relayed to us that “he’s a terrible man, the worst person I’ve ever met.  A bully who had a go at people, it could be cleaners in the Detroit area or anyone.  He jumped on people just because.”

As much as we’d like the world to be black and white, it isn’t, and now we have to wonder.  Not why it took so long for Franzen to come forward, but why this had to happen in the first place.  How often have we heard it said in sport, “it’s not what you’ve done, it’s what have you done lately”.  That’s tough on a player, but how tough is that on a coach?

A coach’s boss is a general manager, and a general manager’s boss is an owner.  Considering the close quarters that a coach and general manager work within, it is not unreasonable to assume that a coach is susceptible to the owner’s intuitions.  So, who is the coach working for more, the player or the owner?

This is the life of a coach, to walk that fine line between the future success of individual players and the immediate success of an individual owner.  How can there not be grey area?  How can there not be stories like the ones we’ve heard and no doubt will hear?  And what are we to do?

I’d ask Barry Trotz, current coach of the New York Islanders, who chose to move on from the Washington Capitals after leading the team to their very first Stanley Cup.  A coach who won the ears of captain Alex Ovechkin and inspired the defensive conscience of an annually dominant offensive team that just could not get over the hump in the tight checking postseason.  So why didn’t he remain there? 

After finishing second, first, first, and then first again in the Metropolitan division from 2014 – 2018, ownership was reticent to offer the three-time division winning coach a contract in season.  So Trotz did what he does and went on to win the whole thing.  He did it with tact and teaching, just as he had with the Nashville Predators for years prior, and evidently, with the Islanders currently.  A strategy of education over intimidation.  Is this the coach of the modern era?

Look, nobody wants to see a bunch of millionaires doing figure eights out there on the ice.  Professional sport is about winning, and that’s why we tune in.  But a conscience seems to be developing where once it didn’t exist.  Let’s not forget that, and proceed with caution.  Whose to say we’re not still learning?

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