DETROIT, MI -- It's done. Mike Babcock has ended his tenure as Red Wings head coach after a decade. It's been fun at times, and it's been tiring at times. However, I think we can all agree that what Babcock has done with this organization has been nothing but spectacular, bringing in one Stanley Cup Championship, and a record of 458-223-105.
Sources say Mike Babcock has been hired by the Maple Leafs. Mammoth 8 yr contract believed to be around $50 million.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 20, 2015
Mike Babcock and Ken Holland have agreed to part ways, and it sounds like Babcock will be heading to Toronto to seek out a new challenge in his career with the Maple Leafs organization. With his new job, Babcock will man the storm of turning around an organization who has spent the last handful of seasons rebuilding. Toronto is only one year into a rebuild, so this could take time. Mike Babcock was receiving big offers from the Buffalo Sabres, but it was reported that he was out this afternoon. Babcock surely did a crack-up job of driving up his price, and getting paid.
It's not that Mike Illitch couldn't afford to keep Babcock, let's be real, the guy is filthy rich, I just don't think he's interested in getting involved with a bidding war over a guy who has already been a piece of the organization for a decade.
Now that we have a vacancy in our coaching, the question must be asked, who takes over where Babcock left off? Surely it's not the easiest pair of shoes to fill, but with a few names floating around free agency, the simple answer is that of Jeff Blashill, head coach of Detroit's AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins. While there won't be any negotiations any time soon because of the Griffins run to their second Calder Cup, the writing is pretty much on the wall. Blashill knows the younger core better than anyone else, and I have a tough time believing that Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Niklas Kronwall require to be "coached." They're veterans, they can lead the way with or without Mike Babcock.
We have reached a critical turning point for the future of the Detroit Red Wings. Where do we go from here? Do we seek out another candidate, or do we go all in on the "Blash Bash?" Your move, Kenny. Negotiation likely will not progress until after the Calder Cup Playoffs.
That being said, I would like to thank Mike Babcock for his time here in Detroit. No doubt about it, he is one of the best in the league, and deserves to be paid. At the end of the day, the Red Wings organization just didn't want to play ball with what MLSE was willing to give. Babcock will now be set in one of hockey's most prominent markets, with the spotlight set directly on him to turn the tides for a complete mess of a team. Best of luck, Mike.