Even though the NHL playoffs are already closing in on conference finals, there is one name that continues to generate interest and excitement off the ice. Detroit Red Wings head Coach Mike Babcock continues to provide off season teams, GMs and media representatives with plenty of work.
Babcock, whose contract is up in July, has reportedly been granted the opportunity to explore his options by Wings GM Ken Holland. No coach has earned that right more in my opinion. Babcock has done it all.
He has more wins than anyone in club history, tallying an astonishing record of 458-223-105. Babcock won a Stanley Cup with the Wings in 2008 and has two President’s trophies as bench boss of the Wings as well. With this kind of a resume, Wings GM Holland is doing everything in his power to convince Babcock to stay in Detroit.
But Philadelphia, Toronto, San Jose and Buffalo are also looking for someone with Babcock’s skills. With that in mind, here are my top three contenders that could take Babcock from Detroit.
1. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks could easily provide Babcock with a balanced roster and a fresh start. With veterans Joe Thorton and Patrick Marleau and Babcock at the helm, this team could easily go far next season. Babcock’s influence and balanced style of play will benefit both the younger players and the veterans.
2. Philadelphia Flyers
If there is anyone in the league that could guide the Flyers away from being the league’s biggest bullies, it’s Mike Babcock. The Flyer’s certainly present a lot of offensive talent in Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek. These three forwards combined for 204 points this season and are weapons that Babcock will be able to use affectively moving forward. It may take him more time to clean up the defense, but he’ll be able to trust these three guys to get the job done much like he has with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall in Detroit.
3. Toronto or Buffalo
There are two teams here, because both are in desperate need of Babcock’s exceptional coaching skills. This is a bit of a long shot for these teams. The issue here is, does Babcock want to start from scratch. Both these teams have just cleaned house and have lots of young talent. The problem is it may take a few years before these young guys have become accustomed to the NHL and begin contributing consistently. Babcock is all about results, winning and success and if he’s content to wait a few years for that and accept the biggest challenge of his career, either of these teams will be the perfect fit.
Of course, Babcock could just stay in Detroit. He’d get a bigger pay cheque and get to work with the players he’s used to and has helped improve. I’m sure Wing’s fans and Holland are all hoping that this will be the case. Regardless, Babcock always seems to find a way to succeed and I can’t wait to see where he’ll end up.
Where do you think Babcock will end up next season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.