Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: mike babcock
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
A group of Canada’s finest hockey coaches go for a bike ride.
Mike Babcock has urged them into the streets of Ottawa, lining up rentals from a local shop in an effort to give his staff a little breather from their World Cup of Hockey preparations. They end up riding three straight days during training camp, taking a route that winds along the city’s picturesque canal while “competing” for a yellow jacket.
“We saw the whole town,” said Babcock. “Beautiful.”
The group of seven – Babcock, assistants Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien, Barry Trotz and Bill Peters, plus goaltending coach Stephane Waite and video coach Andrew Brewer – later decide to cycle again after travelling to Pittsburgh for Team Canada’s final pre-tournament game.
Julien manages to pick up a yellow bike jersey emblazoned with a large photo of the city’s skyline to playfully denote himself the leader of the Tour de Pittsburgh, but no one in the travelling party has any illusions about who is actually setting the pace out front.
This is Babcock’s show and Babcock’s team.
from Kevin Mitchell of PostMedia Network/Toronto Sun,
Q: You say you want to be the best coach of your generation. What more do you need to do to get there? Do you think you’re there now?
Obviously, Joel Quenneville’s doing a heckuva job, too. There’s lots of good coaches, guys who make it hard on you, and that’s why you’ve got to keep grinding. I get to work with (Quenneville), Trotsy (Barry Trotz), Claude Julien and Bill Peters at this World Cup, and to me, being the best at what you do is embracing lifelong learning and getting better every day. Some people would think that’s a burden. To me, that’s where the joy is. That’s where the fun is. It’s what makes life good.
Q: You obviously took on a big challenge with the Leafs. Is it safe to say you’d cement that legacy, if you turn things around in Toronto?
It’s not if. It’s when. The second thing I’d say is yes — the Leafs opportunity is a big, big challenge. But we’re going to make it happen. It’s a great city, an unbelievable hockey market. And now we have to get the hockey team back to its rightful place.
From the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle:
Two years after Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment made a controversial bet on Shanahan – who had never worked for an NHL team in any capacity – what he will say is that he feels the Leafs are ahead of where he expected them to be.
He has a top coach in Mike Babcock, with a Stanley Cup and Olympic-gold pedigree. He has an experienced general manager in his 73-year-old mentor Lou Lamoriello, working on transactions. He has an up-and-coming executive in Kyle Dubas, managing the minor leagues (where the Toronto Marlies finished at the top of the standings), a renowned bird dog in director of player personnel in Mark Hunter and a cap guru in Brandon Pridham.
After the weekend, Shanahan also has 18-year-old wunderkind Auston Matthews, the projected star centre the Leafs selected first overall at the entry draft in Buffalo.
It’s a start.
“I had an idea before I even accepted the job of what needed to happen in Toronto,” Shanahan said in a wide-ranging conversation with The Globe and Mail about the rebuild the Leaf organization is undergoing. “But because I’ve gotten support [from ownership], things have fallen into place a little bit quicker. Other people have bought into it and come aboard.
“In each of my [hiring] meetings – whether it’s been with Mike Babcock or Lou Lamoriello or Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter, Brandon Pridham – my approach has been honesty. ‘This is who we are. We need your help. We have a long way to go.’ But I like some of the early signs. And we’ve had some luck, obviously, with the lottery draft. It was nice to have a little bit of luck on our side, as well.”
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
“It’s been a good week for the Leafs,” Babcock said Tuesday. “We’re in a way better situation than we were a year ago — night-and-day different.
“We’re excited about it. Our minor-league team is in the second round, got a lot of real good players who are going to play in the NHL for a long, long time. We’ve got good players in junior. We have lots of draft picks this year. We plan on having a real strong draft. That sets us up.
“The real good teams end up with 10-year runs. That’s what we’re hoping to do. It will take us some time to get where we want to be, but we’re obviously trending in the right direction.”...
“I don’t know if we’re going to have a better record or not, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it,” Babcock said. “What I worry about is the process.
“We’re going to have much better players. They’re going to be way younger, but they’ll be way better players with much bigger upside. We’re going to be more fun to watch. If we stick with the process, we’ve got a chance to be better than we were last year, which isn’t saying much, but still trending in the right direction. That’s the key.”
from the CP at TSN,
The steam was still oozing off Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock in the moments after the team's 20th loss in the past 25 games.
Babcock was furious with the officiating in a 2-1 Thursday defeat to the Minnesota Wild at the Air Canada Centre. The Wild scored both goals on the power play, including the winner from Mikael Granlund with Leo Komarov in the penalty box.
"I thought we got ripped off big time today," Babcock said. "I don't get it. It makes no sense to me. The other thing I know is the people didn't pay to watch (the officials) play, they pay to watch the players."
Below, watch Mike Babcock post-game plus the penalty call on Komarov...
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
So that’s 50 out of 1,000 games with the Leafs, and given that only four coaches all time — Al Arbour, Billy Reay, Lindy Ruff and Barry Trotz — have ever coached 1,000 games with one team, it’s hard to imagine at this point No. 2,000 will come in Toronto.
If it did, it would come 66 games into the 2028-29 season, when Babcock will be 65 years old. He wasn’t quite willing to project that far into the future when asked if he’s got another 1,000 games in him.
“Well, I’ve got this year and seven more, and then I’m gonna stay for two more after that because the team’s going to be that good,” he said.
He said it without irony, without a smile, almost enough to make you believe him. If you’re a Leafs fan, it seems a safe bet that if Babcock’s still around after another nine years, the team will have ended it’s Stanley Cup drought.
from the CP at TSN,
The fire by Emma Lake crackled as a jubilant Mike Babcock sipped a drink alongside his father.
It was the summer of 2010 and Babcock was back in Saskatchewan, revelling for a moment in his recent success, which included his first Olympic gold medal at the Vancouver Games and a Stanley Cup championship in 2008.
"You know Dad, things are going pretty good," Babcock recalled telling Mike Babcock Sr., who died last March at the age of 78.
The father reminded his son that the success was already in the past. The message was clear: it was time to move on.
"It was over with," Babcock said Wednesday, reflecting on that day nearly six years ago.
The chase for more is what drives Babcock, who will become the 25th man in NHL history to coach 1,000 games when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
It's all about what's next for the 52-year-old from Saskatoon, who owns victories at the world junior championship, the world hockey championship, and Canadian university circuit to go along with two Olympic golds and one Stanley Cup.
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
“Our challenge as a coaching staff — we’ve got to get ’em to play better,” Babcock told reporters after Monday’s practice. “I think when you evaluate the coaching you can give them a pretty hard mark.”
For Babcock to admit that he and his staff haven’t made grade-A-worthy impact amounts to the very definition of pain; he wants to win every night, every period, every shift. Still, for a Leaf fan-base convinced the organization’s depth chart still needs to be further stocked with elite draft picks, the underwhelming results are a lottery-friendly recipe for progress.
Certainly they are a big reason why almost nobody seems upset about the ongoing struggles of the blue and white. The long-palpable angst of Leafs Nation has turned, in some ways, to apathy. There’s a feeling the club is in good hands. But as for the day when those good hands will be held accountable for their deeds — well, it remains a long way off. Last month Babcock started talking about a “10-year” process to transform the Leafs into Stanley Cup contenders. As in, he’ll need a contract extension before this thing really gets rolling.
If nothing else, he is making a case he’s the sporting world’s reigning grandmaster in the managing of expectations. And as for the business of coaching players? To be fair, there have been heartening signs during Toronto’s first four months under Babcock’s control.
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock tells media Garret Sparks will start Thursday against San Jose Sharks and Bernier has to fight his way back.
“(Babcock) is a hard ass, it’s a good thing though, that’s something I thrive on. I’m in his office almost daily, trying to understand how I can get better and how I can be a leader. We’ve definitely come a long way in establishing what I need to do.”
-Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs on head coach Mike Babcock. More on Babcock by Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Mike Babcock says he'd never say no to Hockey Canada when the sport's national governing body comes asking for his help.
That's too bad. He should have said no this time. He should be devoting his time to the Maple Leafs.
The World Cup of Hockey is not the Olympics and it's not even a true World Cup. There are two teams that don't belong: That team of under-23s and a pan-European all-star squad.
Can you imagine soccer, rugby or cricket -- all with huge world cup tournaments -- operating like that? Telling, say, Asian countries you don't have a chance so let's put an all-star team of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans together. And instead of countries like Canada or Australia trying out, we'll invited the best Europeans under 23?
How ridiculous. Hockey's World Cup format is an embarrassment. No more than a cash-grab.
And winning it? It won't feel like the Olympics.
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock gives his take on video review so far, and sounds off on the size of goalies compared to net size, saying he just hopes they’re not taking goals away.
via Frank Seravalli of TSN,
With back-to-back Olympic gold medals on his resume, coaching Team Canada at next year's World Cup was Mike Babcock's job to lose.
Babcock will be named Team Canada's head coach for the 2016 World Cup this week, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. A press conference is tentatively scheduled for Thursday afternoon at Toronto's MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence.
Babcock, 52, won't have to travel very far with the 17-day tournament being conducted at the Air Canada Centre. He will be assisted by Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Many wondered whether Quenneville would be considered for Canada's head coaching job. He has guided Chicago to three Stanley Cups in the last six seasons, all since Babcock last won with Detroit in 2008.
Life will be good.
From an Insider-only entry by ESPN's Craig Custance:
As close as they are, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock sometimes can’t help but poke fun at his friend Mike Babcock. Take, for instance, Hitchcock’s reaction when asked about Babcock winning the NHL’s first coach’s challenge on opening night.
“Babs looks like a star and he didn’t do a damn thing. He stood on the bench looking bewildered. Typical Babs,” Hitchcock said, laughing.
In Babcock’s defense, he was quick to credit assistant coach Andrew Brewer after the game, the guy Hitchcock pointed out was the true star. Brewer is a Maple Leafs coach with a background as a video coach.
“Andrew saved him. I would imagine Andrew got 29 calls today. How did he do it? What did he do? It came down quick,” Hitchcock said. “It was a sharp call and had a big impact on the game.”
When the Sharks won their goalie interference coach’s challenge against the Capitals, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer was quick to credit goalie coach Johan Hedberg and video coach Dan Darrow.
“I’m just the puppet calling the timeout,” DeBoer said to reporters. “It was a great catch.”
When the NHL’s board of governors approved the addition of a coach’s challenge to give NHL head coaches the ability to challenge goals scored following questionable goalie interference or plays that were potentially offside there were visions of guys like Babcock, DeBoer and Hitchcock throwing flags onto the ice and becoming the center of attention.
The reality has been much different. The new rule has thrust the video coaches, not the head coaches, into the spotlight.
From TSN's Travis Yost:
Mike Babcock has pulled very few punches about the current state of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the work it’s going to take to repair the damage that’s been caused under the old regime.
He consistently points out that the Leafs skaters are flush with bad habits. In Babcock’s eyes, these are the priorities for the club in the early going. If Babcock can’t iron out the issues embedded in both the players and the organization, he knows he’s going to have a difficult team turning the ship around.
A big focus early on for Babcock has been player shift length. Babcock’s been adamant about bringing the average shift length for both forwards and defencemen in Toronto way down, and this is consistent with how he’s historically coached. In Detroit, Babcock was almost militant about shift length. It’s worth recalling this quote from an old ESPN the Magazine article, with then assistant coach Paul MacLean talking about how seriously the team takes every passing second:
Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean is never without his stopwatch, clicking it each time the Wings make a line change. "We use our own time," says Babcock, eschewing the arena stat sheet. For playoffs, he wants short shifts -- 40 seconds, tops -- making sure stars like LW Henrik Zetterberg stay fresh enough to sustain the tempo his two-way game demands. Quick, smart line changes are so crucial that the Wings devoted an entire practice to them during an unexpected layover in St. Louis last season. Bonus benefit: Quick changes prevent positioning breakdowns that result in odd-man rushes.
The 40-second shift has seemingly been passed down from coaching generation to coaching generation, but it’s not a number pulled out of thin air. Player performance starts to go off of the rails once you breach that threshold. (Anything beyond 60 seconds can be utterly disastrous.) I don’t know how coaches first arrived at that number, but by my estimation, it’s a pretty reasonable benchmark:
Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber tells quite the gritty tale as to how Mike Babcock went from working in a slaughterhouse to working for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I'll spare you the gore...
Theoretically, this is the perfect marriage. After last season Babcock was a free agent with a gilt-edged résumé—10 straight playoff appearances with Detroit, a Stanley Cup (in 2008 with the Red Wings), two losses in seven-game finals (’03 with Anaheim, ’09 with Detroit) and Olympic gold with Team Canada in ’10 and ’14. Toronto was seeking a credible coach. After turning down a five-year, $20 million extension from Detroit and an offer by potential-rich Buffalo that essentially mirrored the one from Toronto, he cashed the golden ticket—$50 million over eight years. Six-point-two-five average. First-line money, and more than double the salary of Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks have won three Cups in six years. Says Red Wings GM Ken Holland, “Babs won the lottery.”
Why Toronto? Consider a theory. You know how the NHL suspends a player for one game in the playoffs for an offense that would have cost him two during the year because of the postseason’s relative importance? Well, there’s also Stanley Cup math. One Cup in Toronto would be exponentially greater than two or three elsewhere (e.g., 1994 New York Rangers 54-year drought). So an ambitious coach in Toronto gets a two-for-one deal: Win a Cup, get a statue. “I couldn’t see leaving Detroit for someplace other than an Original Six team, but I wanted to try something new,” Babcock says. “The hockey market, let’s be honest, it’s been a coach’s graveyard. Why would I be naive enough to think I could be different? I guess I just am. [We have to] be patient. Get good things going. Not deviate from the plan. Set ourselves up for a 10-year run. It’s probably going to take us three years to get that run set up.” When Babcock was introduced on May 20 in a press conference televised across Canada, he memorably cautioned, “If you think there’s no pain coming ... there’s pain coming.”
But this comment from Henrik Zettererg is very telling for Wings fans...
Playing for Babcock takes a toll; this coach accepts only exact change. “It was time. I think Mike felt that, and [the players] felt that,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg says. “The way he locked on things. The criticism. Hockey was 24/7 for him, and he demanded that of his players.” Zetterberg volunteers that he never thought this in 2008, of course, when Babcock was coaching Detroit to the Cup. “He’ll straighten things out in Toronto, no doubt, because he’ll structure ’em up.”
And Farber continues...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Mike Babcock's voice is already gone and the puck hasn't even dropped yet on the 2015-16 season.
There's been a lot of teaching going on for the new Toronto Maple Leafs head coach.
And it's going to continue all season.
Win or lose -- and it's going to be much more of the latter in Year 1 of the Lou Lamoriello-Babs Don't Call It a Rebuild project -- Babcock is going to get his message through come hell or high water. That's going to be the biggest gain overall this season, changing the way things are done in these parts, re-engineering the DNA of a club that's gone about it the wrong way for a long time.
"We're going to get it so that we're organized; we're going to get it so that we're very hardworking and that we're in it together night in and night out and a hard group to play against," Babcock told a throng of media on the eve of the season opener against the Montreal Canadiens, the hoarseness in his voice in midseason form.
"We need to make it hard on teams. Now, how long is that going to take? I can't really answer that question. I just know we're working at getting better every day."
from Jonathan Gatehouse of MACLEAN'S,
Q: You’ve talked about the need to make Toronto a “safe place” for players. What do you mean, and how do you do that?
A: I felt, last year, from the outside looking in, that the players took a lot of hits—deservedly so, in some ways. But to me, you have to look after those guys. You have to build a product that’s good enough that they can win enough, that they feel good about themselves. I don’t care what you do in your life; if you have no confidence, it’s hard to feel good about who you are. That could be in the workplace, or the home. Any time there’s no trust, it makes it hard. We’re going to make it safer that way. We’re going to look after them the best we can. And we’re going to build a structure here so that they can be safe on the ice, and play well on the ice.
Q: At the same time, you’ve stressed a need for more accountability—to teammates, management, the fans and media. How do those two concepts go together?
A: I call it “sharing the love.” You know when your wife’s having a good go at you? I always say to the guys, “Hey, she’s just sharing the love. If she didn’t love you, she wouldn’t talk to you like that.” To me, it’s kitchen-table accountability. When you sit around your kitchen table with people you love, if you say something stupid, they call you on it right away—because they’re honest with you and they’re making you better. That’s what we’re going to have here. We’re going to have an honest respect for one another, to make everyone maximize the potential they have. I expect the players to listen to me, and I’m going to listen to them. We’ve got to make each other better here, and it’s another way to create safety, because the players know you’ve got their backs. When you tell a player what you want, he will try to please you.
From the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno:
As the rebuild continues, the Maple Leafs might not be much better, even under Mike Babcock. But the star coach will make sure that at least they put up a fight.
"Two things that irritate me the most are lack of preparation and lack of compete," he said. "That's not happening. We're going to get that fixed."
The Leafs should be motivated by playing for a new coach and needing to impress a new general manager, Lou Lamoriello. Phil Kessel's already gone, and almost no one on the roster is untouchable.
Management brought in several players on one-year, "prove-it" contracts. Shawn Matthias signed for US$2.3 million, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau $1.5 million, Matt Hunwick $1.2 million, Mark Arcobello $1.1 million and Brad Boyes $700,000.
They also have players with a year left on their deals, like centre Nazem Kadri, defenceman Martin Marincin (acquired from Edmonton) and winger Michael Grabner (acquired from the Islanders).
Toronto probably won't contend for a playoff spot, but it won't be because players aren't trying.
"We're not going to lose because of lack of effort this year," Kadri said. "It's something that's going to change. We're going to be a skating team, a team that is going to move quick and with pace."
From the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran:
If there was ever a time when Mike Babcock might have some self doubt about the job he chose for himself, it could well be this week.
On Tuesday, his Maple Leafs were out-skated, out-hustled and outperformed by Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres, a team that courted his services as much as the Maple Leafs.
On Friday, he'll return to Detroit, where he spent a decade behind the bench of the Red Wings, a team that didn't want him to leave.
Based on the way his team plays, he may be left wondering: "What have I gotten myself into?"
"In the NHL there are no moral victories. Either you get the points or you don’t. They post them every day. There is nothing worse than grabbing the newspaper and turning it upside down to see yourself at the top of the standings.
“In saying all that, I’m not spending a lot of time worrying about that. I’m spending a lot of time preparing.
“We’re going to be a work in progress on the ice. I thought we acquired players to change the team but we need to get the team to work harder, compete harder. We’ve got a long way to go in that area.”
-Mike Babcock, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun has more on and from Babcock.
From the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger:
In the first of this two-part series, the new Leafs coach sat down with the Toronto Sun to open up on a variety of topics, including Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri, Lamoriello and, most importantly, re-establishing the Maple Leafs brand in the hockey world.
“We’re an Original Six franchise that doesn’t hold our rightful place in the National Hockey league right now,” he says. “We will.”
How? Even Babcock is aware of the perception that, rightly or wrongly, some players don’t want to be play in Toronto, whether it’s because of the franchise’s recent futility or because of the fishbowl that comes with being a Leaf.
“Maybe not now,” he says confidently. “But they are going to come.
“What was the line in that movie Field of Dreams? ‘If you build it, they will come.’
“So, there ya go.”
This news item from the isn't TMR stuff any more because it's not Red Wings-related, but as a Red Wings fan, I'm glad to read the Peterborough Examiner's Dale Clifford report that Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock's commitment to mental health awareness hasn't changed a bit:
The 52-year-old was the guest of honour for Breakfast with Babcock, a fundraising event in support of a new suicide prevention program hosted by Team 55, Let’s Tackle Suicide Awareness, at the Trentwinds International Centre on Tuesday morning.
An announced crowd of 506 attended the affair and $71,544 was raised for the new two-year program with the Canadian Mental Health Association Halliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (CMHA HKPR) called Assertive Outreach for Suicide Prevention (AOSP).
The program serves individuals who’ve been identified to be at high risk for ongoing or repeated suicidal behaviour and offers support for the person’s immediate and short-term needs and helps to create a safety plan, while connecting them with other resources.
Babcock talked some hockey and his involvement in the game over the years but his focus mainly was on talking about leadership qualities on and off the ice and sharing why he was so passionate about mental health and particularly suicide prevention, especially after losing two family friends to suicide.
“When I heard what they were doing here and had the opportunity to be here, I wanted to come,” he said. “I didn’t come here as a coach but I wanted to talk about mental health and share it with others. I care about people, worry about kids. There is nothing worse than suffering in silence. People need someone to talk to if something is wrong. Sharing with someone can get you through it and can make a difference. These things have been very important to me.”
Among the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' sports notes...
Lou Lamoriello is an autocrat. Although, a former NHL general manager referred to him the other day as a dictator. Mike Babcock is somewhat of an autocrat as a coach. It’s his way or the highway. Jacques Lemaire is about as rigid as they come. What’s going to be fascinating is how these men of large minds, large egos, and total belief in their own ways find a way to work together. The Leafs could be way more interesting off the ice than on it ...
I see where young Auston Matthews, likely first pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft, will be paid $400,000 to play in Zurich this season. That’s slightly more than the going rate for under the table money in the OHL ...
The NHL’s summer? Superstar Patrick Kane investigated; Ryan O’Reilly arrested; Slava Voynov off to jail; Jarret Stoll caught with cocaine; Mike Richards, first investigated, then had his contract voided; And the Canadian dollar just keeps on dropping. And how was your summer? ...
This will surprise some Leaf fans: Dave Nonis, the fired general manager, had three offers to join NHL teams before deciding to take a senior consultant’s job with the Anaheim Ducks. Among the teams interested in Nonis were the Montreal Canadiens ...
And this one, we're familiar with in Metro Detroit, because far, far more of a stretch than it's made out to be in the out-of-town circles:
Many who admire Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings and Tigers, are concerned about his ability to properly operate his franchises. Ilitch is 86, not in the best health, and there is a lot of family interference around him these days. The Dombrowski firing seemed odd as did the quick hiring of Alex Avila to replace him.
Simmons continues and comments on the Patrick Kane situation...
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Tags: anaheim+ducks, auston+matthews, dave+nonis, detroit+red+wings, jacques+lemaire, jarret+stoll, lou+lamoriello, mike+babcock, mike+ilitch, mike+richards, patrick+kane, ryan+o'reilly, slava+voynov, toronto+maple+leafs
I have little time for power rankings, but for those of you who are interested in such lists, Sportsnet's Luke Fox penned a list of rankings based upon NHL teams' offseason moves or the lack thereof:
1. Edmonton Oilers: Any off-season that begins with Connor McDavid should be half decent. But it's what happened before the draft (but after the lottery) — securing a bona fide GM in Peter Chiarelli and head coach in Todd McLellan — that should give the Oilers faithful the most hope. Chiarelli wasted no time addressing the team's weaknesses in net (Cam Talbot) and along the blueline (Andrej Sekera). Mark Letestu is a wise depth signing, and playing hardball with Justin Schultz shows the new-look Oilers are to be taken seriously. Also: Their new alternate sweaters look sick.
2. Dallas Stars: Trader Jim went after it again, this time landing Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks, goalie Antti Niemi from San Jose, and inking Johnny Oduya in free agency. An already loaded offence just got scarier. “We have as good a team on paper as anybody in the league," says Tyler Seguin.
3. Buffalo Sabres: Landing franchise pivot Jack Eichel in the draft immediately puts the Sabres in the upper ranks here, but the trades for Robin Lehner and Ryan O'Reilly have instilled faith that GM Tim Murray — aggressive in pursuit of his targets even if he doesn't always land them (McDavid, Babcock) — is rebuilding the right way. Nice opportunity for Dan Bylsma to get his coaching career back on track with low expectations.
Fox continues, and if there was any doubt that these rankings are arbitrary...
20. Detroit Red Wings: Bad news: Try as they did, the Red Wings lost Mike Babcock. Good news: They had coach Jeff Blashill waiting in the, er, wings (sorry). Re-signing Gustav Nyquist for a fair price and hiring help from veterans Mike Green (too expensive at $6 million per season) and Brad Richards shows fans that the playoff aspirations won't die with Babcock's departure.
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Tags: andrej+sekera, antti+niemi, brad+richards, buffalo+sabres, cam+talbot, dallas+stars, detroit+red+wings, edmonton+oilers, jack+eichel, johnny+oduya, mike+babcock, mike+green, patrick+sharp, peter+chiarelli, robin+lehner, ryan+o'reilly, todd+mclellan
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock spoke with NHL.com's Dan Rosen regarding the Leafs' hiring of Lou Lamoriello as their general manager:
"Lou has been about winning," Babcock told NHL.com in a phone interview Thursday. "Lou is a guy who has pushed himself to get better every single day. I think a senior management guy joining our team, understanding what the vision and what the plan is, is a home run for all of us. Everyone concerns themselves with the team on the ice; the team off the ice precedes the team on the ice. I think we're set up very good."
Babcock said Lamoriello's experience and history of winning, including three Stanley Cup championships with the Devils (1995, 2000, 2003), will be especially important for Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas, director of player personnel Mark Hunter and assistant to the general manager Brandon Pridham.
Babcock said he has been impressed with Dubas, Hunter and Pridham since he was hired on May 20, but adding Lamoriello will give those young executives a sounding board.
"To bring in a guy like Lou, that gives those guys someone to talk to, someone to mentor them, someone to ask, 'Hey Lou, you've been through this 100 times, what do you think?'" Babcock said. "You have an experienced guy who is still passionate and still fired up about it and still wants to work. That's Lou. He loves hockey."
Babcock said he first met Lamoriello during the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, when he was coaching the Anaheim Ducks against the Devils. New Jersey won the series in seven games.
In the 12 years he's known Lamoriello, Babcock said every time he has spoken to him he has come away impressed. Babcock said he has gotten only positive reviews from the people who have worked for Lamoriello, including a recent review from former Devils coach Peter DeBoer.
"Every coach I've ever talked to about Lou, and most of them have been fired by him, love him," Babcock said. "I talked to Pete DeBoer the other day about him. He raves about him. Lou has got a way of doing things, but Lou is a smart, smart guy and just like all of us who are in the pursuit of knowledge and the pursuit of winning, we're sure willing to adjust to somebody who has a better idea. This was a home run for Mike Babcock."
Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean spoke with Sportsnet's Luke Fox regarding five "hot topics":
On what the Phil Kessel trade means to Pittsburgh: “It’s great for Sidney Crosby. The challenge with Sid, thinking back to the Vancouver Olympics, is figuring out who to play with him. Finally after about three games, coach Mike Babcock said, ‘Sid, who do you think?’ And he said Eric Staal and Jarome Iginla. I see Kessel as maybe that triggerman that Sidney needs.
On 2015′s biggest free agent, Mike Babcock, moving to Toronto:“Mike Babcock is a big believer in ghost rosters. He doesn’t want too many of the same players. I’m not sure the Leafs had too many other Kessels, to be honest. Toronto will assemble a team in Mike Babcock’s version of teams.
“Mike didn’t want Marty St. Louis, who was the leading scorer in the National Hockey League [in 2013] to go to the Sochi Olympics because he had set out a roster of what he had in mind. He told Steve [Yzerman]: ‘You can pick him, but I won’t be able to play him.’ And Yzerman drafted according to Mike both at Sochi and Vancouver.
“In Vancouver at six in the morning, Yzerman called him and said, ‘Are you up?’ Mike said, ‘I’m a coach. I’m always up.’ And he let him make the final selection on forwards. Mike took Jonathan Toews and put him on the checking line with Rick Nash and Mike Richards—very unconventional. That’s what’s happening in Toronto: Mike’s doing the ghost roster as he sees fit.”
Sportsnet's Damien Cox suggests that the Toronto Maple Leafs must take an aggressive approach to pre-draft-day trades in order to move out bodies and bring in both younger prospects and picks, and while this entry fits under, "KK Hockey" more than my blog, I (George) read this as a Red Wings fan and thought, "How did two months suddenly turn Toronto's trash into another man's treasure?"
To be in position to get the best players over the next few years, more picks are needed and winning has to become a secondary goal, which means people have to go. Phaneuf almost went at the trade deadline to Detroit, and that’s a scenario that will be revisited, even though the Leafs have yet to hire a new general manager. Shanahan feels comfortable making major deals with Mark Hunter, Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock at his side, and the Red Wings may be willing to give up the futures now that they weren’t willing to relinquish in March when a deal that featured Phaneuf going to Motown for the contract of Stephen Weiss and defenceman Brendan Smith wasn’t concluded because the Leafs also wanted futures the Wings weren’t willing to surrender at that point.
Yes, because Teemu Pulkkinen scoring like a machine during two-and-a-half rounds of the Grand Rapids Griffins' playoffs = he's totally redundant.
Kessel, meanwhile, has seven years to go at $8 million per, but even in an off, off season he potted 25 goals. There’s no obvious match here, but lots of teams failed in the playoffs or missed them because they struggled to score and could have interest in the winger.
And so they're supposed to surrender major compensation for someone described by the Toronto media as nothing more than a malcontent and a cancer?
Bozak and Lupul would be the next two on the list, and if Kessel can’t be moved, they are easier to deal. Lupul has three years left at $5.25 million, Bozak three more at $4.2 million.
The Leafs have demonstrated in the David Clarkson trade with Columbus and the Phaneuf talks with Detroit they’re willing to absorb salary if that’s what it takes to make a deal. Moreover, they’re keenly aware that once the free agent market opens July 1, and with the cap likely to increase only to about $71 million, their options to move these players are likely to be reduced significantly as budgets get spent.
That doesn't mean their prices have gone up since the trade deadline, when the Leafs weren't able to consummate deals for any of the above-listed players.
Cox continues, and I'm not trying to rip the guy, but let's just say I think his take on the value of the players the Maple Leafs' press corps bashed for the entire 2014-15 season aren't any higher because other teams are desperate to take the Leafs' problem children on this summer.
Among the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' Sunday notes:
Word is that Mike Babcock is pushing for [Mark] Hunter to be named general manager of the Leafs. Brendan Shanahan would be wise to look elsewhere. Shanahan needs Hunter to find players. A general manager won’t be able to spend the kind of time scouting that the Leafs require to properly rebuild. Hunter may want the job but the practicality of it doesn’t make sense...
Those who say this is the last shot for the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t really paying attention. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith — the best 1-2-3 in hockey — are signed through 2023. Corey Crawford is signed until 2020. Marian Hossa is signed through 2021. Niklas Hjarmalsson is signed until 2019. So if you lose a Patrick Sharp here, a Brad Richards there and sign Johnny Oduya, Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook to new deals, there’s no reason this kind of success can’t continue for several more years...
Two more things on Keith: 1) His cap hit is $5.5 million, making his contract one of the best in hockey. By comparison, the Dion Phaneuf contract looks ridiculous. 2) Should the Blackhawks win Saturday night, Keith may be the leading candidate to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, but he’s not a Norris Trophy finalist. For the record, he was on my ballot, ahead of both P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson, who are up for the award.
If Steve Yzerman can juggle the salary cap prudently, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be Stanley Cup contenders for years. Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn are all 25 and under. And figuring they pick up some assets for the disappointing Jonathan Drouin, that should make them even stronger...
When Brian Lawton tried to acquire defenceman Tomas Kaberle when he was general manager in Tampa, the Leafs first asked for college kid Alex Killorn. That conversation didn’t last long.
Simmons continues, discussing the usual potpourri of sports topics...
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Tags: alex+killorn, brad+richards, brandon+saad, brendan+shanahan, brent+seabrook, chicago+blackhawks, dion+phaneuf, duncan+keith, erik+karlsson, johnny+oduya, jonathan+toews, marian+hossa, mark+hunter, mike+babcock, nikita+kucherov, niklas+hjalmarsson, ondrej+palat, patrick+kane, pk+subban, pk+subban, steve+yzerman, steven+stamkos, tampa+bay+lightning, toronto+maple+leafs, victor+hedman
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
During the course of a casual conversation a few years back, Marc Crawford was asked if the impact of an NHL coach could be measured in wins and losses.
Turned out Crawford had given this subject some thought. Without a lot of hesitation, the veteran hockey man said: “It’s seven to eight points a season.”
So there you go, Leafs fans. Your team just paid $50 million for a new coach and, if everything goes right, they’ll improve from 68 to 76 points next season. Surely that must be worth three hours of discussion on the panel.
The Leafs, of course, have become the newest test case for one of hockey’s enduring questions: Does a coach really make that much of a difference? In signing Mike Babcock to a groundbreaking eight-year, $50-million deal, they certainly made coaches all over the NHL happy. But is Babcock the man who can end half a century of misery in The Big Smoke? Can he, through his mere presence, alter the course of this cursed franchise?
You have to admit, it’s a helluva question. We just wish we could give you a helluva answer.
To put it indelicately, Don Cherry is going ga-ga over Mike Babcock, and while he insists that Babcock is no messiah, Cherry spent 85% of this Coach's Corner praising Babcock, praising Babcock, and also praising Babcock as the best coach in the world and the coach who will bring Canadians and Ontario natives to "Canada's team":
What can you expect from Mike Babcock...
- Honesty, to the point that it may hurt at times.
- Frustration, come on Mike, play someone else, he deserves the ice time.
- Fantastic- One of his buzz words.
- Compassion for the game and his team.
- Won't disclose much, it stays in the room.
- If he does disclose, there is a reason behind it.
- If a player sits, it is because he does not give your team the best chance to win.
- Bottom line, winning, in the end that is what counts most.
Below, the opening of Mike Babcock's presser with the Detroit media.
The end of Mike Babcock's media tour took him to Sportsnet's Hockey Night in Canada studios, where he sat down with George Strombolopolous for an 11-minute interview that aired during the 1st intermission:
If it's possible to make Mike Babcock feel warm and fuzzy, and if it's possible for Mike Babcock to make himself seem fuzzy, this is as close as it's gonna get.
It is scheduled to begin at 11:00am ET but there may be some talk before the conference begins.
Watch below and you have three options...
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
When it comes to employment, most people have a salary in mind at which point the money becomes too much to turn down.
That's the simplest explanation for why Mike Babcock left a coaching job he loved with the Detroit Red Wings to become coach of a Toronto Maple Leafs team with myriad roster problems.
Several media outlets are reporting that Babcock, 52, will receive $50 million over eight seasons, with much of the deal front-loaded.
That $6.25 million average salary is more than three times what Babcock ($2 million) earned this season in Detroit, and it is more than twice the salary of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was the highest paid coach at $2.75 million per season.
Undoubtedly, Babcock, a proud Canadian, is intrigued by becoming the coach of one the NHL's most storied franchises and the challenge of helping team president Brendan Shanahan build a team that could win the team's first Stanley Cup since 1967.
from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press,
Don Cherry conducted his usual "Coach's Corner" during Wednesday's Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, and he's changed his tune about Mike Babcock:
Coaching the Leafs will require an inordinate amount of patience, until the player talent matches the organization’s Stanley Cup ambitions. This then will be the ultimate test for Babcock who, 13 years and 950 games into his NHL coaching career, has never quite faced the challenge that Toronto will pose. There are not many coaches more competitive than Babcock. How he handles the challenge of those early dark days will be a sight to behold.
-Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail on Mike Babcock in Toronto. Read more on this topic.
MLSE President Tim Leiweke talks about his pride for Brendan Shanahan, who he says with the Babcock signing proved he’s a great president.
via the Toronto Maple Leafs,
Brendan Shanahan, President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced today that Mike Babcock has been named the 30th head coach in the club’s history. Babcock, 52, joins the Leafs after serving as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings for the past 10 seasons.
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons is concerned that the Toronto Maple Leafs may have to give up too much of their "futures" to build a new coaching and management team:
Word around is that the eventual hiring of a Leafs GM may also come with some kind of compensation price. Possibly a second-round draft pick? Possibly a third-round draft pick?
The Red Wings already established the price on a Mike Babcock hiring as a third-round pick and now that it seems Babcock is likely to return as Detroit coach, what becomes the price to hire AHL coach Jeff Blashill, who is under contract to Detroit?
While once upon a time, the elevation from a senior position in one organization to a GM or coaching job elsewhere was considered part of the game and encouraged, that isn’t the case any longer and anyone under contract elsewhere cannot freely hired by the Leafs.
So [team president Brendan] Shanahan must balance the worth of a GM and coach against the value of a draft pick.
And at a time when picks are precious and about all the Leafs have, how much is too much in compensation?
Simmons continues with the usual abundance of hockey and sports notes...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
If I had to put money on an early front-runner, I’d pick the Oilers given the exciting new direction of the team plus Connor McDavid's arrival in June. Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson has strong ties with Babcock from their Team Canada Olympic tournaments. New GM Peter Chiarelli intends to speak with Babcock soon.
The Sabres will make a push, too, with GM Tim Murray having ties to Babcock from hiring him to his first NHL head coaching job back in the Anaheim Ducks days.
And Sabres owner Terry Pegula won’t be shy to spend money.
There’s also Toronto, of course, but for me the Maple Leafs are only a serious player if they slap down crazy, crazy money. Their outlook isn’t as advanced as the Oilers or Sabres in terms of a rebuilding roster.
Could the Philadelphia Flyers or San Jose Sharks or another team make a call? No question, I would bet on it.
Detroit remains very much part of the mix, too. Babcock's desire to speak to other teams and what he ends up hearing from them may only re-affirm his realization of how good he has it with the Red Wings.
I had no intention of making the KK Hockey section 'The Babcock News' today so if you want everything that transpired today, check out The Malik Report where George did a great job on this topic.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
Babcock faces the paradox of choice – more options, more anxiety. No matter which team he chooses, he will be turning down great opportunities elsewhere. If he leaves Detroit, he will be leaving an owner who has treated him well, a GM with whom he has worked well, a team with which he has won a Cup, a city his kids have called home. He will be saying somewhere else is better than a place he loves.
He needs to talk to his wife. He needs to talk to Holland. Maybe his wife tells him to stay. Maybe the Wings increase their offer and convince him the roster can contend for the Cup in the coming years. Maybe he needs to talk to other teams before he can evaluate, let alone decide. We can speculate, but he can’t explore his options legally until his contract expires July 1 – unless the Wings give him permission.
“I’m flattered,” Babcock said. “I really am. But my wife and I will go through a process, and Kenny and I will go through a process, and within 10 days we’ll have a plan. I’m not letting this go forever and ever. Kenny will decide what we do.”
Gonna be a long 10 days. At least.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
While the spotlight entering the final two weeks of the NHL regular season is focused squarely on the enticing playoff races in both conferences, there are a handful of general managers and coaches who are primed for a blindfold and last cigarette.
And the reading of the last rites, of course.
Indeed, there is no shortage of men who are playing out the string over the next 14 days, all the while knowing that their tenure with their respective teams is coming to an inevitable end.
Whether it be the Leafs, Sharks, Flyers, Bruins, Devils, Sabres, Blues, etc., there are axes being sharpened throughout the league, poised to come down as part of various housecleanings going on from coast to coast.
And, according to one Eastern Conference executive, the catalyst for many of the ensuing moves could be Mike Babcock.
continued with a look at teams who could use Mike Babcock's services...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Until Mike Babcock commits to the Detroit Red Wings going forward, the Maple Leafs are of the belief there remains a considerable chance he will be their coach next season.
They are of the mind — and you can doubt this all you want, and I have — that in Babcock’s world of decision making it’s Detroit first, Toronto second, everywhere else after that.
The notion that Babcock wants no part of a rebuild is dismissed by MLSE upper sources. They believe Babcock has the mentality of a mountain climber. He loves the great challenge. And this is comparable to being at the base of the impossible mountain.
“This is a man who loves challenges,” said an MLSE source. “What challenge in hockey is bigger than this?”
continued plus more topics...
Amongst the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' Sunday hockey and/or sports-related notes, which mostly involve the Toronto Maple Leafs:
If you break down the Cody Franson-Mike Santorelli trade, it’s basically Franson for a late first-round pick and Santorelli for the prospect Brendan Leipsic. The Leafs had a very extensive book on Leipsic, partly because personnel man Mark Hunter had his London Knights play against him in the Memorial Cup. Leipsic is known for three things: 1) being small; 2) being ultra-competitive; 3) having ridiculous ‘he could stickhandle in a phone booth’ hands...
Coaches that interest the Leafs: Still working division: Mike Babcock, Todd McLellan; Ken Hitchcock; Dave Tippett; Out of work division: Peter DeBoer. Seemingly no interest: Dan Bylsma...
The Leafs also have some interest in Alexander Burmistrov, the troubled high draft pick playing in the KHL, whose rights are owned by Winnipeg...
I'm intrigued by Burmistrov myself--he's 23 and liberally-listed at 6' and 179 pounds, and he hasn't exactly lit it up during two seasons with the Ak Bars Kazan, but he's still fleet-footed as all hell get out, and he could be somebody's next-year reclamation project.
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