Photo: Nicolas Poulin
Photo: Nicolas Poulin

After ten years of being with the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Babcock’s time in Detroit is officially over. Babcock is now moving on in his career to become the head coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Babcock began coaching Detroit in 2005 and soon after led them to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2008. The Red Wings returned to the Stanley Cup Finals again a year later in 2009, where they went on to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. The Red Wings haven’t made it past the second round since then.

On May 8, Ken Holland announced they he would give other teams permission to talk to Babcock before his contract expired on June 30. One of the terms to this was that whatever team that signed Babcock would have to forfeit a third-round pick once within the next three years. There were plenty of teams that were considered a possibility to land the coveted coach including Edmonton, Toronto, Buffalo or for him to remain in Detroit. Yesterday, the decision was narrowed to either Detroit, Toronto or Buffalo. Despite saying “there’s no better job” than coaching in Detroit, the money Toronto was willing to offer Babcock was just too much for him to walk away from. Babcock and the Maple Leafs have agreed to a deal reportedly worth around $50 million for eight years. The highest paid coach before Babcock was Chicago’s Joel Qunneville, who was making about $2.75 million per year. The deal raises the bar for future NHL coaches’ salaries. Babcock has publicly displayed his disappointment with the NHL coaching salaries, comparing them to other professional sports, so this will help the NHL coaches take a step in the right direction.

So what does this mean for the future of the Red Wings?

(Photo: David Guralnick / Detroit News)

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The leading candidate to fill Babcock’s shoes is Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill. Blashill has never been a head coach in the National Hockey League, but was one of Babcock’s assistants with the Red Wings in 2011. The following year, Blashill became the head coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins. In his first year with the Griffins, Blashill led the team all the way to win the American Hockey League championship. His second year the Griffins lost in the second round and now they are currently playing in the Western Conference championship.

The Griffins have endured much adversity the past couple years with lots of their stars being called up to play for the Red Wings due to their injury woes. However, Blashill led his teams through this adversity and still found a way to have lots of success.

Another advantage with hiring Blashill would be the fact that a lot of the current Red Wings players have been brought up and coached already byhim. There is Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendening, and Petr Mrazek who all have experience playing for Blashill. Blashill knows these players and should help make a smooth transition to the post-Babcock era in Detroit. Blashill’s energy and coaching styles have been compared to Tampa Bay’s head coach Jon Cooper, who ironically is the guy that knocked Detroit out of the playoffs this year.

Granted, losing a guy with the coaching pedigree of Mike Babcock is never easy, but the experience Jeff Blashill has coaching many of the guys on the Red Wings should ease the loss. He has shown he can be successful being a head coach at a high level and hopefully for Red Wings fans, that success will carry over into the NHL.

 What do you think of coaching situation in Detroit? Let me know in the comments below.

Jeremy covers the NHL for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @MFSTJeremy

 

Jeremy ONeillAnalysisHockeyNHLBuffalo Sabres,Detroit Red Wings,Grand Rapids Griffins,Jeff Blashill,Mike Babcock,NHL,Toronto Maple LeafsAfter ten years of being with the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Babcock's time in Detroit is officially over. Babcock is now moving on in his career to become the head coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Get Great Tickets at Ticket Monster! Babcock began coaching Detroit in 2005 and soon...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?