Mike Babcock and Toronto have agreed to a massive deal to try to fix a massive hole.
CBS Sports is reporting that Babcock, now the former head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, has signed a front-loaded, eight-year, $50 million contract to assume the head coaching duties of one of the NHL's most storied, and most recently, most hamstrung NHL teams. Though the average salary is $6.5 million, the front-loaded part means Babcock will make a little over $8 million per season for the first three years of the contract.
Babcock's resume is an impressive one indeed. His overall career record is 527-285-119, along with 19 ties over 12 NHL seasons. Babcock's playoff record is 82-62. Babcock has been to the Stanley Cup Finals three times, once with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2003, and with the Red Wings in 2008 and 2009. He and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008.
Babcock also had success in junior hockey and national hockey. Babcock started in the Canadian college hockey, then went to the Western Hockey League, coaching the Moose Jaw Warriors and Spokane Chiefs. He then went to the American Hockey League, coaching the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks for two seasons before being called up the the parent company. He also led Canada to the World Championships in 1997 and 2004.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Babcock was pursued by Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brendan Shanahan, who played for Babcock in Detroit up until 2006, when he retired. There were rumors that while is looking to rebuild, Babcock is more interested in winning now. Perhaps it was the money offered, or possibly stress at his former workplace. Whichever, Babcock and Shanahan will have to find common ground to rebuild this once-proud team.
Babcock had his choice of assignments. He could have stayed in Detroit, but Babcock knew there was more money out there. The Buffalo Sabers were in the running, with owner Terry Pegula ready at the checkbook and Babcock's previous association with general manager Tim Murray, but they removed themselves from contention this morning. The St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, who both had permission to speak with Babcock, were quickly dismissed, as well.
Toronto now decides their next move. They are still without a general manager, a role Babcock may be asked to fill temporarily. Babcock now makes more in salary than the players on his team, except for Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. The Maple Leafs, now armed with one of the most successful head coaches in the NHL, will try to reach back into history and win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1967. They've got their coach, now they have to get his players.
[Image courtesy of the Lavin Agency]