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Buy or Sell: Will Mike Babcock Leave Detroit This Summer?

May 28th, 2014 at 10:02 PM
By Frank Vajcner

It was quite the chatter around the NHL on May 16 when a tweet from TSN's Bob McKenzie said that the Pittsburgh Penguins were preparing to clean house by firing GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma.

Rumors had began to fly that Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock would leave the Motor City for the Steel City.

But those who wrote about those rumors jumped the gun as Bylsma remains head coach of the Penguins nearly three weeks later.

Does this mean Babcock is going to stay put? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Let's look at why Babcock will stay.

First off, he has one year left on his contract. Right now, the ball is in Ken Holland's court in terms of signing Babcock to an extension. More on that later.

Also, Babcock has an agreement with his wife to stay in the state of Michigan until his youngest daughter graduates high school. He has also called rumors of him taking over at the University of Michigan when Red Berenson retires "completely false."

Babcock also is not someone who would jump ship while under contract. Keep in mind that he finished out his contract while in Anaheim before he came to Detroit.

For the record, Babcock is also the winningest coach in Red Wings history.

Now let's look at why he would leave for Pittsburgh.

The biggest reason is Sidney Crosby. Babcock has coached Crosby at the last two Olympic games, and the two have a good relataionship.

“He wants to be the best in the world. This is what I do know,” Babcock said of Crosby in an interview with ESPN The Magazine. “All the best players that I’ve ever coached – Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Shea Weber – they all have an unbelievable drive train. They have a will to win and when your best player is that driven, it’s pretty straightforward.” 

Also, going back to his contract, Holland does not appear to be in any hurray to re-sign Babcock to an extension. That has caused a stir among some fans, but keep in mind that Holland is entering the final year of his contract too, and he will have to be signed to an extension. Is the organization trying to sign Holland first before Babcock?

Could money be something that draws Babcock to Pittsburgh? Not really. Babcock was the second-highest paid coach last season (only Chicago's Joel Quenneville was paid more). And if he does re-sign, would Holland make him the highest paid coach in the NHL?

Please keep in mind that I want Babcock to stay in Detroit until he retires. Given the job he did with the Wings this past season, he deserves a contract extension and a raise. But Holland will have to act soon before whoever Pittsburgh's new GM decides to make a ludicrous offer (provided Bylsma is canned).

If Babcock does bolt for Pittsburgh, Holland could go after Bylsma, who is a native of Grand Haven, Michigan.

These next few weeks could get interesting. Stay tuned.

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, Mike Babcock, NHL

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