Mike Babcock And His Break-Up With The Detroit Red Wings


Now that “Babwatch 2015” is finally over and Mike Babcock has decided to officially part ways with the Detroit Red Wings after a decade of successful service by signing a monstrous and benchmark deal to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit hockey fans around the world can take a breath and un-glue themselves from the barrage of internet rumors and speculation and begin to live their lives in the post-Babcock world.

As an obvious Detroit Red Wings fan and Mike Babcock supporter I will admit that losing a coach and persona of Mike Babcock’s caliber is most definitely a blow to Hockeytown, but is it by any means a deathblow? I don’t personally think so. Honestly, I felt much stronger emotions when Nicklas Lidstrom hung up his skates in 2012. I’m also willing to bet that hockey fans in Buffalo may be more upset about losing out on Babs than most Red Wings fans.

Let’s be honest here, Mike Babcock didn’t exactly have the most positive or uplifting things to say about the Red Wings following their first-round playoff elimination this year against Tampa Bay by pointing out in his very blunt Babcockian fashion the increasing ages of Detroit’s core group of players. Was there truth to his statements? Of course. Was it possibly not the most appropriate time to say such things? Maybe. But blunt and sometimes brutal honesty is something that Mike Babcock has never shied away from, and as the old saying goes, the truth hurts.

So between Babcock’s post Game Seven comments and subsequent announcement that he would be talking to other teams, it became pretty clear, at least in my mind, that the chances of Mike re-signing in Detroit would be a very slim chance. There were little glimmers of hope and optimism at times with statements such as his family really enjoyed living in the Detroit area and Babcock himself stating that he loved the Detroit organization and Ken Holland, but at the end of the day, 50 million dollars can persuade even the most loyal heart.

So in the end was it all about the money? In the beginning Mike said it wasn’t, it was about winning. I’ve never been offered 50 million dollars to a job but I can imagine how such an offer could change a person’s perspective. It was reported that Buffalo’s offer was similar to Toronto’s and both were greater in both length and term to Detroit’s.

Neither Buffalo or Toronto give Babcock the chance for immediate success as both teams find themselves in complete rebuilds, San Jose and St. Louis, who were both also in talks with Babcock, would have given him a much higher chance of some form of immediate success. Ultimately, Mike Babcock is a Canadian Boy who loves the game of hockey, so it makes perfect sense that he would take such a lucrative deal to coach one of the most historic Canadian sporting teams. Also, Babcock is the type of person and coach who both loves and thrives on challenge, and he will certainly have his fair share of challenges coaching the Maple Leafs.

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  • So with the Mike Babcock off to Toronto that brings us back to Detroit and to GM Ken Holland’s Plan B, and it’s pretty obvious that the “B” stands for Blashill. The fact of having Jeff Blashill in the Detroit pipeline has really softened the blow of losing Babcock for me and many Red Wings fans. There are many things to like about the Grand Rapids coach who has had a good deal of success in his short career in the AHL. After winning the Calder Cup with the Griffins during his first year as coach in 2013, several teams took interest in Blashill but Ken Holland stepped in and began to work his GM magic.

    At the time Holland gave Blash the option of talking to NHL teams about a possible coaching job or staying put in Grand Rapids with a doubled salary. Blashill took the second option and informed Holland on his to desire to stay in the Detroit organization and develop as a coach and thus planting the seed of Plan B. The bottom line here is Jeff Blashill proved that he wants to be here and be a part of this organization, and I think some fresh and loyal blood is just what the doctor ordered.

    We also can’t forget that Blashill has coached and mentored a majority of the Red Wing’s younger players and knows what talent he has coming up from the Griffins. As the NHL continues to get younger and faster having this knowledge of youth can only help the Red Wings to continue their transition into a younger and more competitive team. Sorry Daniel Cleary.

    So in conclusion, breakups suck. We have all had that feeling or experience of being stood-up or left with some void to be filled, but you know what? We have all made it through those unpleasant experiences and there has always been someone or something new to help push us through. Yes, I’m still talking about hockey here, at least metaphorically.

    Thank you for service and success Mike Babcock, I wish you nothing but the best and you deserve every cent of your new contract. Good luck in Toronto Mike, you’re going to need it.

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