Mike Babcock has to be one of the hottest “free agents” in hockey and teams are lining up for his services. His current contract expires at the end of June and he’s been talking to several teams over the last while.
On May 8, Babcock’s current club gave him permission to talk to other teams. Detroit general manager Ken Holland said that he was hoping to have an answer from his coach on May 25. He also noted that he offered Babcock a contract extension last summer.
Babcock was the Red Wings’ head coach for 10 seasons. He won a Cup with them in 2008 and made it to the Stanley Cup Final the year after that.
“There’s not a better job, there’s a different job, so you have to be careful,” Babcock told TSN. “The Red Wings are an Original Six franchise. That’s a special, special thing. I think about the opportunity to win. I think about my family, my time in Detroit.”
In the same interview, Babcock noted that he would have his answer within the next week. He is on record as having met with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, plus there are several other possibilities in the running that must be considered. The Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks are all without a coach. The Edmonton Oilers have been interviewing candidates, but they seem to have set their sights on former Sharks coach Todd McLellan.
“I have offers,” said Babcock. “More than one.”
Holland has a compensation letter he passes to teams who want to talk to Babcock, but he hasn’t revealed which teams have asked to speak with the coach. Any team that does hire Babcock must pony up a third round draft pick at some point over the next three years.
With the decision looming, many are speculating that he’ll remain with the Detroit Red Wings. The quickness of the decision suggests that could be true, plus the “there’s not a better job” soundbite could be worth tearing apart.
Babcock has gone on about the “special bond” he shares with Detroit and Ken Holland, too, so that might wind up being worth more than a contract from the Sabres or Maple Leafs. And if winning is the thing, as it is with all coaches, Detroit is certainly the better option as far as the future goes.