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How the Maple Leafs finally spent wisely -- by hiring a top-tier coach

Getty Images, USA TODAY Sports

Hockey analytics pioneer Rob Vollman is ESPN Insider's armchair GM, exploring how modern statistics can inform front-office decisions.

Rather than spending the dying days of the summer trying to find one last free agent, NHL teams should be fine-tuning their coaching staffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs certainly believe in this, having opened their proverbial wallet wide for Mike Babcock, and having recently added the legendary Jacques Lemaire to his staff. The Leafs are the most prominent of at least a half dozen teams that have made significant upgrades behind the bench, and who stand to make noticeable leaps in the standings.