With rumors and speculation running rampant among the masses, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock decided to clear the air Friday on his relationship with general manager Kyle Dubas.
The spotlight on their partnership grew intense following the club's 3-0 loss in Nashville on Tuesday, after which Babcock said other teams around the NHL have done a better job playing through injuries than the Leafs. Some took the comment as a shot at Dubas, but Toronto's veteran coach insisted he meant no harm.
"We've talked about this since this happened," Babcock said Friday, according to NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger. "How would I say it? If any of my comments in any way - because then I read the article and I don't read it that way, at all - but if any of my comments in any way hurt anyone, it (wasn't intended)."
Babcock is in his fourth season as the Leafs' coach, but Dubas is in his rookie season as Toronto's GM, which Babcock believes is a factor in the duo's growing relationship.
"(Dubas) and my relationship isn't as good as it will be four years from now," Babcock said. "Mine with (Detroit Red Wings GM) Ken Holland wasn't as good in my first (season) as in my 10th or Bryan Murray in my first (with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) as in my third. It takes a while to build."
Toronto currently sits sixth in the NHL with 93 points and is all but locked into a playoff spot for the third consecutive season with Babcock at the helm.