Dubas reflects on role in Babcock's departure: 'We couldn't become simpatico'
Rene Johnston / Toronto Star / Getty

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is holding himself accountable for the departure of former head coach Mike Babcock.

"I'm disappointed in myself ... that coming into the job, knowing Mike was the coach, you certainly want everything to work out," Dubas told assembled media, including TSN, on Thursday.

Dubas added, "I tried to do as best I could ... and I'm disappointed in myself and only myself that it didn't work out, that we couldn't become simpatico on every single topic."

The Maple Leafs fired Babcock on Wednesday, replacing him with former Toronto Marlies bench boss Sheldon Keefe following a 9-10-4 start that has threatened what was supposed to be the club's most promising campaign in recent memory.

"Our major way of looking at it was, 'Is this best for the long term of the group?'" Dubas said. "Not to sit here at the end of the weekend and say was this a success or not, but in the long run, was this the best thing to do for our program?

"And (Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and I) both agreed that it absolutely was."

Babcock led the team through a rebuilding season in 2015-16 before helping the Maple Leafs reach the playoffs in three straight campaigns. The club failed to advance out of the first round in each of those postseason appearances, however, and a regressive start in 2019-20 signaled to Dubas it was time to make a change.

"Our ups and downs, our inconsistency a little bit, and just kind of reading off the players and watching them and how they were reacting to different things (showed) that it was time to potentially go down this path," Dubas said.

Tuesday's loss to the Vegas Golden Knights pushed the Leafs' losing streak to six contests, the longest such slide of the Auston Matthews-Babcock era.

Asked if Babcock had lost the room, Shanahan dismissed the notion but admitted there has been something amiss with the club.

"Certainly from a player's perspective you could see the frustration in their eyes and I really thought even in our last game that the players were working hard but there was a sort of a belief missing in them," Shanahan said.

Keefe will coach his first NHL game Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes as the Maple Leafs look to turn their season around.

Dubas reflects on role in Babcock's departure: 'We couldn't become simpatico'
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