Babcock's Salary: Raising the Bar for NHL Coaches

No, money was never the expected issue for Mike Babcock.

It was always believed that the Red Wings would match any offer for him. That expectation was made with the assumption that no team would offer more than about $5 million per year. No one, not even Babcock himself, expected the Maple Leafs to offer the money that they did.

Any rational human being would sign a contract given that salary. Money was originally not an issue, but it became one. $50 million over 8 years leads to an average salary of $6.25 million per year, which is 50% more than what the Wings offered.

Could the Wings have offered more in their effort to keep Babcock? Possibly, but who knows what the Leafs would have been willing to raise his salary to if the Wings matched their offer. At the end of the day, the Wings gave Babcock a very competitive and generous deal, but he had no choice other than to turn it down when presented with the Leafs' offer.

There is a very important point to make here. NHL coaches have always been incredibly underpaid for their efforts. The previous highest-paid coach in the league was Joel Quenneville, who earns about $2.75 million per season. Not only will Babcock earn more than double that, he will earn nearly triple that number in his first three seasons of his new contract!

There is an obvious personal incentive for Babcock to accept this offer, but by earning this salary, he also drives up the prices for all of his fellow coaches, as our own Matthew Schultz points out.

Present and future coaches across the NHL cannot wait for their current contracts to expire so that they can renegotiate for higher salaries. Babcock was expected to inflate coaches' salaries by a considerable amount. He has not only driven up the price for NHL coaches, he has completely revolutionized the coaching world.

Will more coaches pursue free agency? How much will salaries for NHL coaches rise? Will this trickle down to the AHL and even affect the European coaching market? These are all questions that will be answered over the course of the next few seasons. But what is clear is that Mike Babcock's decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs will have a seismic impact on the coaching world.

Thank you Mike for everything you have done for this organization. And until a salary cap on coaches' salaries is implemented in the next lockout, we cannot blame Babcock for taking the Maple Leafs' offer.