Babcock’s Descision: What it Means for Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, San Jose, and New Jersey
The Mike Babcock sweepstakes is over. On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Babcock will become the 30th head coach in Toronto Maple Leafs history, as he inked an eight year deal at 50 million total salary. Babcock was sought after by multiple teams, but in the end, money and organizational power were big determining factors.
Babcock’s hiring is nothing short of spectacular for Toronto. With Shanahan and he in place, Toronto’s management is looking great, even without a new general manager in place at the moment. The key contributor to success in Toronto will be the heavily preached patience plan, as they are just about to commence their rebuild. Babcock, who had worked with many young players in his years in Detroit, will be able to help speed the rebuild along by doing the same work in Toronto. The Leafs are also in the market for a new AHL staff, which Mike Babcock can help pick out. It’s a good signing all around by Toronto, and no one questions that, but there are questions arising about the teams whom got the short end of the stick from the Babcock situation.
The Buffalo Sabres for one are furious that they did not land Mike Babcock, mainly because they were given every indication up until the last second that they were the favorites to land the coach. They fired Ted Nolan just as the season ended and have not had an extensive search up until this point. John Tortorella is out for them (any many of the other team), he’s just not meant for that group. Dan Bylsma is an option, but he’s generated interest from multiple other teams and would have to get a decent amount of money from Buffalo to consider. Paul MacLean remains a serious option, although no major talks have been done yet.
The Detroit Red Wings are another team without a coach now, but the decision seems pretty clear cut. Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill has been groomed up until this day to be an NHL coach and is ready to step in. Blashill is the favorite at this point, but GM Ken Holland says he would still like to interview two or three more candidates before deciding (per Pierre LeBrun).
The Sharks were yet another team in the mix for Babcock, although never strong contenders. They too are interested in Dan Bylsma, but have also interviewed Adam Oates, Peter DeBoer, and Randy Carlyle for the job. They seem to want to go down the lane of experience, rather than choosing a newbie coach like the Flyers did just a few days ago with Dave Hakstol.
Although not in the mix for Mike Babcock, the Devils are also without a coach. Dan Bylsma like the other teams previously mentioned is high on their list. They’ve also could pursue Paul MacLean.
Some other things to keep in mind are that Dom Sweeney was named Boston’s general manager today, and comes from within the organization, so Claude Julien’s future is undecided. If Julien hits the market, he would bump to the top of many lists. Guy Boucher is another option for teams, but he recently interviewed for a job with the Leafs as an assistant under Mike Babcock.