TORONTO — Mike Babcock is no fan of the NHL's newly created bye week.
Speaking a day before his Maple Leafs get their first taste of the mandated five-day break, Toronto's head coach said the concept worked counter to what it was supposed to accomplish — namely offering players a break from the grind of an 82-game season.
"I think it's 100 per cent wrong for player safety," Babcock said ahead of a Saturday tilt with the Montreal Canadiens. "You've got so many games in such a short period of time and you're jamming in more. To me, the more days rest you can have by not playing back-to-backs and jamming it in the healthier you have a chance to be I believe."
The Leafs have a league-leading 18 back-to-backs games this year, including the weekend set with the Canadiens and Devils. Toronto played Friday night in New Jersey, winning 4-2.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that he was hearing similar grumbles about the bye week from players and clubs who argued that the compressed schedule was hurting rather helping with the rigours of a long season.
Following the game against Montreal the Leafs will be off until Friday night when they visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.