Outside of Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz and Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, there aren’t many NHL coaches on the ice running practice this week… but you can count Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock as one of them. While most of his contemporaries are spending their Memorial Day long weekend with friends, family and maybe a few adult beverages, Babcock is on the ice in his native Saskatoon, Saskatchewan running on-ice sessions for this weekend’s Humboldt Broncos spring training camp. This according to Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) play by play announcer Rod Pedersen:
Leafs coach Mike Babcock is running on-ice sessions at this weekend’s Humboldt Broncos spring camp in Saskatoon. #humboldtstrong
You may remember that Babcock delivered one of the most emotional statements following the tragic bus crash that took the lives of 16 individuals over seven weeks ago. The Saskatchewan was visibly shaken and was emotional when addressing the crash just a day after:
Babcock was reportedly a special guest coach and will remain on the ice with the team through the conclusion of practices today. Of course, Broncos head coach and general manager Darcy Haugan was one of the 16 killed in the accident. Babcock, along with Colorado Avalanche head coach and Jack Adams Award finalist Jared Bednar, arrived at camp ready to help and carry on Haugan’s tradition in Humbolt. There are over 120 players vying for spots on the Broncos roster in 2017-18, it’s expected that Babcock’s insights will play a big part in determining which players ultimately make the cut and which get sent home. The roster is expected to be trimmed to just 40 players following this weekend’s camp.
Of course, the 55 year old Babcock played junior hockey himself in Saskatchewan, playing 30 games for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades in the 1980-81 season before moving on to play for the University of Saskatchewan and McGill University. Good on you Babs for helping make a positive impact in a community that has been absolutely ripped apart by such a tragic event. It's one thing to pay tribute and offer up prayers and well wishes, it's absolutely another thing to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Well done, Mr. Babcock.