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Babcock ambivalent on if he’ll sign extension in Detroit

Jul 14, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT

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If there’s a major free agent to be had next summer, it’s likely it will be a superstar coach rather than a player.

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is headed into the final year of his contract with the team and there’s already been a lot of speculation about his future. After the job he’s done in Detroit and his masterful work behind the bench with Team Canada during the 2014 Winter Olympics, it’s clear he’s one of the best coaches around.

If Babcock were to become available, it would surely affect how teams decided to handle their own coaching situations. Will he be there to be had in the summer though?

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press asked the coach how contract talks with the Wings were going and he was his usual elusive self.

There’s no doubt the Wings would love to get it done before the season, but that’s likely up to Babcock whether he wants to stick around or not. If he were to make it to next summer he’d have a host of teams likely begging him to help turn their fortunes around. It’d be a great spot for the 51-year-old to be in as he’d likely become the highest-paid coach in the league and have his choice of where he’d like to be most.

Then again, if the place he wants to be most is Detroit, other teams may not stand a chance. As it is, he’s said plenty of great things about working in Detroit already. Perhaps the coach is just having fun messing with everyone covering this potential big story.

  1. rbbbaron - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    In any case, the Wings nation thanks you for putting up with Holland for as long as you have.

    • pjblake2redwings - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      Holland is in the final year of his contract too so my guess is if Holland is resigned then Babs is gone. for some reason tho the ilitch family loves holland so who knows..

      • rbbbaron - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        I have to wonder just how smitten the Ilitch family is with Ken Holland given that in recent years they’ve been pay-rolling a bunch of bums brought in by Holland. Colaiacovo, Tootoo, Sammy, Bert, and what I hope is the tipping point Weiss.

  2. Steeley McBeam - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Babcock is the reason Dejardins ended up in Vancouver. Pens will put everything they have into getting Babs to Pittsburgh.

    • jpelle82 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      unless they have a great season with the coach and gm they hired this offseason…..

    • hockey412 - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      How exactly did the Babcock to Pittsburgh rumors even start, anyway? I just don’t see Mario and Burkle paying 3 head coaches next year. They’ll still be paying Dan, and will have to pay Johnston for 2 more.

      Don’t get me wrong – Babcock is definitely an elite hockey mind – but he isn’t the only one out there. Would love to have him. But I can’t see how the rumors got started, and they aren’t all that reasonable.

      • JoeAvg - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:59 PM

        Not sure but I think I read somewhere that they were started by that Mark Madden guy. Go figure.

        Never believed them for a second. Would be nice though – timing is everything.

      • tmoore4075 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:08 AM

        Thank you! Common sense! Look I know Babcock could be gone next year, but these crazy theories need to stop. He’s not going to the Pens. Obviously for the reasons you just mentioned, but also people forget Bill Peters was their first choice to replace DB before he took the job in Carolina. Peters was Babs assistant here in Detroit. So if there plan was to hire Peters and hope Babs was available next summer, they don’t know Babs well. No way would he take a job away from one of his former assistants. How crappy would that be? This idea of hiring and firing just to get one guy, is not a good way to run a franchise.

  3. 2qswing - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    Best coach in the game. What he did with that roster last year was amazing. He basically took the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  4. wutangwild - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    Anyone else had to google what ambivalent meant? Babcock and his perpetual frown and death glare is one of the best coaches of all time, period. Hope to see him stick around in Detroit but who knows.

    • adamdep211rukus211 - Jul 15, 2014 at 3:33 AM

      Yea, Im kinda ambivalent on where he is gonna go next year, the pens or stay in motor city.

  5. erbaker67 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    I cant see him leaving an Original Six Team unless he goes to another Original Six Team. Since he is from Ontario, maybe Toronto? Again, if you watch the 24/7 Wings Leafs, you can tell he loves all the history and everything that it means to be a Red Wing. I hope he stays. Also, unless working with Holland or something within the organization makes him leave, I dont see it happening.

    • hockey412 - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      Why would it matter if it was an Original Six team to him?

      • erbaker67 - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        I just feel, based on the comments he made in the 24/7 episodes that he knows what it means to coach for an Original Six team and all the history behind them. I got the feeling that he loves all the history and wouldnt want anything else. Again, this is just my opinon.

      • hockey412 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:33 AM


    • rmccleary97 - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:10 AM

      Not bad … only 36 minutes before someone suggested he go to Toronto – but if Lewiske is going to make Toronto the center of the hockey world in 2017 by hosting everything in sight, [sarcasm] it’s just yet more proof that Babcock secretly wants out of Detroit so he can coach the Maple Leafs, every coach’s dream team [/sarcasm] .

  6. bcsteele - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    If Hitchcock doesn’t get the Blues over the hill* this year I’d say he’s out and Armstrong and Babcock have connections through team Canada. Might be a fit. Which would make the Chicago – St. Louis rivalry all the more fun to watch in my opinion.

    *And by over the hill I don’t mean we need to win the cup (though that’d be the goal and be about time that happen) but man, can we at least not get knocked in the first or second rounds for once?

  7. Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    I doubt it would ever happen, but I’d love to see him in Toronto. Hopefully Shanny can pull some strings, if he still has any with Babcock. After watching 24/7 it just showed how much better Babcock was at dealing with his team than Randy Carlyle. Carlyle just comes off as an angry camp counselor. Babcock teaches the guys how to behave like champions. Teaches them to be proud to wear an original six sweater. Toronto players definitely don’t wear the blue and white with any kind of honor. Not since Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark were around.

    • dueman - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      Your last two sentences are just nonsense. Are you even a Leaf fan?

    • flowerdew - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:12 PM

      My understanding is that Shanny left Detroit because he disliked playing for Babcock, amongst other reasons. There could be some positive connection there, but what I’ve heard about it doesn’t make it seem terribly likely.

  8. murtdurt - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    I met babs this week at the calgary stampede. I pitched the idea that Pittsburgh would be a great fit and he couldn’t disagree hahaha

    • shoobiedoobin - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Yeeeaaahhh…that never happened

  9. datsyukdominates - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Babcock is out in Detroit and Jeff Blashill will be taking over. It’s more or less already done. Blashill could’ve had an NHL job this season but he re-signed with the Detroit organization for three more years. That wouldn’t have happened if Babcock was sticking around. I’m actually quite happy about it. Blash is an incredible coach and the players don’t want to play for Babcock anymore. They need a new message and that will happen next year. We can only hope Holland follows him out the door…

  10. hieronymous27 - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    If Ken Holland would get off his arse and trade for a mobile right handed shooting defenseman (or 2) to quarterback the PP, the odds of Babcock staying in Detroit would be greatly increased. It is time for the Red Wings to shake things up and if they have to trade a young forward and/or draft pick to fill a glaring need then so be it. Just because you couldn’t sign a free agent defenseman doesn’t mean that you have license to do nothing over the summer.

  11. lakeshoreleafsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    I would guess that Mike Babcock’s status as Red Wings coach depends on some scenarios:
    *if he doesn’t want to be coach in Detroit anymore, then he can do whatever he wants (and what I mean is, for example, Babcock can just play out the season with no intention of re-signing)
    *if Red Wings’ season starts off badly, he could be fired by mid-season, or earlier
    *if Red Wings’ season starts off hot but fizzles as the regular season comes to a close, then he could be dismissed, even if he wants to stay
    *if Red Wings miss the playoffs, Ken Hitchcock most likely won’t resign him. And who knows, Hitchcock could be dismissed himself if Red Wings miss the playoffs next year
    *even if Red Wings do make the playoffs, Babcock could still either be interested in staying, or have no interest in staying

    No matter what happens with Babcock though, I bet dollar for dollar he won’t be out of a job for too long; he is a damn good coach. And I’d also bet dollar for dollar that one place Babcock won’t be signing is the Maple Leafs; seeing as they just hired two new assistant coaches for Randy Carlyle. So, if Carlyle gets dismissed, they already have two potential head coaches-in-waiting. UNLESS Steve Spott and Peter Horachek were to stay as assistants and they still hire Babcock as head coach. That truly would be awesome. But, if Babcock were to leave Detroit, and sign with another team (no matter where it is) that team is already better off

    • lakeshoreleafsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      D’Oh. In one of my comments, I said Ken Hitchcock instead of Ken Holland. I failed to proofread my comments before sending

  12. stl333 - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    I know you use a thesaurus for some of these titles

    • cheliostwin - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      What, did “ambivalent” throw you off? Perhaps the title’s author is old enough, like me, to have taken Latin in high school. Or perhaps he/she is an avid reader and has a large vocabulary. Ambivalent is not an uncommon word; I’ve come across it hundreds of times in my reading.

      • philliesblow - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Thumbs up for Latin in HS, I did that also.

        It’s a very common word. It means he can coach with either hand, right? #sarcasm

  13. tmoore4075 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    This is Babs being Babs. I have no idea if he’ll be back or not but this is him just stating the obvious. People who think he’s gone will read this as he’s gone. People who think he’s staying, will think it means he wants to get it done and it will get it done.

    I love how so many people try to speculate about what is going on behind the scenes like he hasn’t signed because Holland hasn’t gotten a defenseman. Yeah Kenny just trade away youth for someone right now! We know Buffalo wants Mantha for Myers so that alone should tell you what the asking price for guys is at. Wings have a future to think about so they aren’t just going to give up Jurco, Tatar or Mantha. I don’t think Blashill is all but the coach. I think it’s a possibility but they want Babs first. Amazing how shortsighted people are. The Wings really are looking down the road too when they make these decisions. Trying to cover all their bases. With Balshill’s contract he gets security and the Wings secure him if they need him but also secure a great AHL coach.

    • pjblake2redwings - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:49 AM

      as a wings fan can you really say the wings were looking to the future when we traded CALLE JARNKROK and a 2nd round draft pick for 20 games of David Legwand… In 12 games for the Preds, Jarnkrok put up 2 goals and 7 assist.. This kid is going to be a legit center and we gave him away to put Legwand on the 4th line for 20 games… Holland was really looking at the future with that move eh

      • tmoore4075 - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        Jarnkrok wanted a guarantee to be on the team next year and was threatening to go to Europe and not back to Grand Rapids for 14-15. You think that was gonna happen? I’m sure you’ll say well if they didn’t sign Dan Cleary, he’s taking a roster spot. Yes the guy who is currently the 14th forward on their depth chart, who they are ok with not getting consistent playing time, is taking a roster spot from Jarnkrok. So have a guy playing little to nothing just to have him on the NHL club or playing big minutes in the AHL and being called up when needed. I think the development factor is better, it’s worked so far for the Wings. I understand he wanted to play in the NHL but he wasn’t just going to be on the big club. Nyquist, Sheehan, Tatar, Jurco…all paid their dues and are better for it. Was it a lot to give up for Legwand? Yes, but you don’t make a move that might help you into the playoffs and then the kid doesn’t come back to North America, where does that leave you? The asking price for a right-handed dman is at least one of Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco or Mantha and maybe picks. All guys currently on the NHL roster or one who is their top prospect. So you are upset the Wings traded Jarnkrok but want them to trade guys who are higher on the depth chart for a dman now?

      • shoobiedoobin - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        Jarnkrok wasn’t going to magically leapfrog anyone for a spot. He wouldn’t or couldn’t get bigger, his play in the AHL was good but nothing worthy of jumping ahead of the what, 4-6 centermen ahead of him on the overall depth chart? Combine that with the possible threat of bolting to europe and you’ve made yourself expendable. Hey, if you want to play for the big club, don’t plant that seed of dount in the minds of those in the front office.

        And those 7 points is more an anomaly than anything. He could easily hit a wall and average out around 30 points a season. Look at how they used him. They told him screw defense, don’t bother being a responsible center, we’re going to toss you out for offensive zone draws so just try to set guys up. He got 7 in 9 instead of his average pace for the same reason Datsyuk could score 120 instead of 95 if he forgot about the defensive zone and did nothing but try to rack up points.

        David Legwand is not a bad player and we needed help desperately, not just for those who were hurt, but with the way the season was going it was for the potential of even more injuries later. It got us into the playoffs and anything can happen when you’re there. We lost in 5 but that doesn’t mean winning was impossible. He’d still be here if we weren’t loaded at C (part of why Jarnkrok isn’t either, see the puzzle pieces coming together?).

        You’re calling him a future legit center without any hesitation. Please don’t tell me it’s not just for ammo to shoot at Ken Holland.

        Internet-age hockey fans are so clueless.

      • rbbbaron - Jul 15, 2014 at 6:54 PM

        “The asking price for a right-handed dman is at least one of Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco or Mantha and maybe picks.”
        When the rest of the league sees that you’re dumb enough to (enter one of Holland’s many follies over the last few years) and leave a gaping hole open on your blueline for multiple seasons while your coach takes to the press to exert pressure on you about it, well then yeah, you should expect to get joshed around by other GMs. It seems Holland would prefer to swing at some relatively splashy names, and failing that stick to the status quo (see: Quincey), rather than try something thrifty and sign a righty to a one-year deal on the cheap.

        “So you are upset the Wings traded Jarnkrok but want them to trade guys who are higher on the depth chart for a dman now?”
        He referenced the Legwand/Jarnkrok trade as a counterpoint to your assertion that Kenny ought not to “just trade away youth for someone right now!” He was upset that Jarnkrok was shipped for Legwand, not necessarily that Jarnkrok was moved at all. It seems perfectly fair to question whether Jarnkrok, as a trade asset, was wasted when there was a far greater need at the time.

        “They told [Jarnkrok] screw defense, don’t bother being a responsible center,”
        Wow Barry (Trotz), I’ve never seen you like this before.

        “[Legwand] got us into the playoffs…”
        Did you happen to watch him play for the Wings? (*cough*) bust! (*cough*)

        “He’d still be here if we weren’t loaded at C (part of why Jarnkrok isn’t either, see the puzzle pieces coming together?).”
        Which begs the question– why did Holland trade for a center in the first place? Having a firesale on assets so you can get something you’re already loaded with…hmmm, that sounds great.

        “Internet-age hockey fans are so clueless.”
        By and large, yeah. Especially when they’re ignorant of the advanced statistics that are readily available to them. You wouldn’t happened to have given them a look before you decided to praise Legwand, would ya?

      • shoobiedoobin - Jul 16, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        “Wow Barry (Trotz), I’ve never seen you like this before.”

        Then if Trotz told him to play D he didn’t listen. Go watch-he didn’t backcheck, he hung out looking for passes and stayed deep quite a bit. It doesn’t matter who told him to do it, my point still stands. Even though judging from everything I ever see from you here, you’ll argue anyway.

        I don’t care how Legwand performed. It’s not like many Wings performed and hindsight renders an argument invalid.

        “Which begs the question– why did Holland trade for a center in the first place? Having a firesale on assets so you can get something you’re already loaded with…hmmm, that sounds great.”

        I thought this was obvious. INJURIES. Injuries which temporarily are devastating, but in the long term go away. We needed temporary help. Obviously.

        I’m not praising Legwand, I’m saying it was a necessary move. Learn to read kid.

  14. shoobiedoobin - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Every Wing fan is dooking on Holland right now but let’s not forget, HOLLAND WAS GOING TO LET CLEARY WALK.

    >>>BABCOCK wanted Cleary on the team last year<<<

    So Holland did what he had to do to get him on the team (which included making a promise to take care of him beyond one year).

    Lest we forget the absolutely unnecessary burying of Jordin Tootoo in the AHL. He was a pure heart, energy player who had stopped taking dumb penalties and did nothing but motivate and energize everyone around him. Babcock developed one of his irrational hate-ons towards him and buried him. Same with Mike Commodore. I still think Chris Conner was a very good 4th line energy player and Babcock just killed his career.

    He picks guys and just destroys them for no reason. And he has absolutely no accountability.

    The team has clearly tuned him out and doesn't want to play for him. Look at them during games-I've seen more energy from teams in practice than Detroit shows in most games. They're skilled as hell so they get away with it but it's the cry of a team who doesn't want to play for an abrasive asshole anymore.

    Babcock is great. But his attitude gets old. It will on any team. So here's the deal-you're getting the best coach on the planet but you're getting him for a limited time. I think on any other team (especially a bad one, or one with a bunch of egos unlike Detroit) he'll be tuned out in 4-5 years.

    Blashill is ready for the NHL, he coached half the team in the AHL, isn't nearly as abrasive and might just be as smart. No one will know who he is but just wait, in 5 years, he'll be as known as any coach in the NHL. I'm not kidding, bookmark this and come back to it in a few years.

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