Rob Parker: Good luck, not good riddance, to Mike Babcock
Babcock signed 8-year deal with Maple Leafs
DETROIT – Here's what was written here on May 1:
"Babcock looks like a goner
It's hard to imagine that Mike Babcock will re-sign a deal to remain the Red Wings coach.
With the success he's had the past 10 years on the Detroit bench - including a Stanley Cup - it makes no sense that his contract would lapse. But often when a person is ready to make a move, they allow it to happen.
All signs point to Toronto, where apparently Babcock can be coach and have power in player personnel as well.
The Wings have exclusive negotiating rights until June 30th. It doesn't appear as if it will matter."
And in the end, it didn't matter.
Mostly because of the money. Babcock is, indeed, headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs with an eye-popping contract that shook the NHL on Wednesday.
According to reports, Babcock signed an eight-year, $50 million deal to skipper the Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings' final offer pales in comparison. The Red Wings reportedly offered a five-year pact for $20 million.
Wings' GM Ken Holland said that at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, Babcock called and said he was taking his talents north after 10 years in Hockeytown.
"My offers last June were a four-year term," Holland said. "Again in January, it was a four-year term. As we sat yesterday morning, I said, 'Mike, the best I can do is five years.' When you've been in the same city as long as I have, and as long Mike has, you don't get a much longer term than four and five years. So I think that's certainly part of the decision-making process probably for Mike, was the amount of term that he could get in Toronto."
For sure, there were sour grapes from Red Wings fans on sports radio who can't understand why Babcock would leave Detroit.
Plus, it doesn't feel good when big names keep leaving the city via free agency. First, Max Scherzer bolted the Tigers for the Washington Nationals' seven-year, $210-million deal. Then, Ndamukong Suh left the Lions hanging and took his talents to South Beach, signing a six-year, $114-million deal with the Miami Dolphins.
Now, Babcock is gone for the cash.
But you can't blame Babcock for getting paid, either. You would be crazy to turn down that kind of cash, even if the Maple Leafs aren't a good team.
After all, the Wings are the model franchise, making the playoffs 24 straight years, the last 10 with Babcock, and they won the Cup in 2008.
The Maple Leafs, on the other hand, are looked at as a dumpster fire. They missed the playoffs this season. It's the ninth time in the last 10 years, and they haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967.
But for Babcock, who is Canadian, turning the Leafs around is a challenge based on country pride.
Babcock, 52, is loved in Canada for winning the country Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014.
Money aside, it's a huge challenge for Babcock to turn around this sad-sack franchise north of the border.
Nonetheless, Babcock would be God-like if he was able to finally get Toronto a Cup.
"I'm proud of Shanny," Maple Leafs President and CEO Tim Leiweke said about Leafs' president Brandan Shanahan, who played for Babcock in Detroit. "He got the big whale...It should give everyone great hope about the future of this organization. Mike Babcock is a phenomenal coach and I think we're really lucky."
Here in Detroit, Babcock's tenure had run its course. Sure, the Wings kept making the playoffs, but you got the sense that the message had gone stale here and players wanted to hear a new voice.
It happens to coaches in all sports. This is not a knock on Babcock. It's just that 10 years in charge in the same place is a long time.
All signs now point to Jeff Blashill, the team's AHL coach in Grand Rapids, being named Babcock's replacement behind the Wings' bench.
Many have high hopes for Bashill, who won a championship in the minors.
As for Wings fans, they should wish Babcock good luck. He got the job done in Motown, winning a Cup. That's all that should matter.
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