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Shocker In Hockeytown:  Babcock Out On Eve Of Playoffs

Unfriggingbelievable.  Citing unrest among the team’s top players and an inability to co-exist with Ken Holland, Mike Babcock is stepping down as Head Coach of the Red Wings.  According to a release from the Wings, Paul MacLean will coach the Wings the rest of the way, hopefully deep into the playoffs.

Not a whole lot to go on, other than some short blog entries from the Diggers. But it appears that a situation that had been boiling a bit all year reached a tempest with the signing of Darren McCarty last month.

Helen St. James

After three consecutive 50-win seasons and building a team he recently labeled his “best shot at a Stanley Cup”, Mike Babcock dropped a bomb shell late this afternoon when he notified Mike Illitch (via phone) that he was resigning, effective immediately.  In a conference call with Detroit media, he said while it may be a surprise to “outsiders”, those inside the room and team officials wouldn’t be surprised.

“I’ve been fought every step of the way,” said Babcock.  “Every time I felt I had the team headed in a direction that would have been right for the playoffs and right for the players and right for the city and the organization, management would step in.”

Asked if the addition of Darren McCarty was the final straw, Babcock was elusive.  “I didn’t choose to play him Sunday.  Coach’s decision.  Former coach’s decision.”

Looking back the last year or so, there have been rumors (admittedly slammed here at A2Y) that hinted at the players’ dissatisfaction with Babcock.  I chose to disregard them, but apparently there was some truth behind what appeared to be a load of crap all along.


Mike Babcock’s contract negotiations had growned strained over the course of the last few weeks, and finally ceased altogether last week.  Babcock said in his late afternoon conference call this afternoon that money had nothing to do with his departure.

“I make plenty of money. It’s not the money.  It’s the fact that I’ve been trying to do something here and there’s somebody up there who doesn’t like what I’m doing down here.”  Babcock, who also lasted three years in Anaheim before being fired, said members of the organization took issue with his decision to start Mark Hartigan instead of Darren McCarty Sunday afternoon against Nashville.  “It’s not about money for me.  Can I say the same about the guys who hold the purse strings, who make decisions based on putting people in the lower level, where the big money’s spent?  Hartigan started.  He’ll start Wednesday, or he would have.  Ask Paul.”

Babcock was referring to Paul MacLean, interim coach through the playoffs according to the Wing communication office.

The Deep Digger captain was the only Wing beat writer to get comments from Ken Holland and Babcock.


A tempestuous relationship ended in the most unusual and circumspect manner in Detroit on Monday evening.  Mike Babcock offered the Wings his resignation at approximately 4:30 pm.  It was accepted soon after by General Manager Ken Holland.

“It’s unfortunate and it’s terrible timing. Do I still think we can win?  Yes.  Will it be hard? Yes.  We wish Mike nothing but the best and, despite the appearance that he’s quitting on this team ten days before the playoffs begin, hope he finds a situation that fits for him…one where he’s the coach and GM would probably work.”

Babcock, reached as he was packing up his office at Joe Louis arena, said he hasn’t notified his team, nor did he intend to.

“It was an implosion.  The boys imploded on me and there was a revolt led by the older players.  I’d like to apologize for kicking Andy Strickland’s ass up and down this room last November.  It was fun at the time, but he’s just a punkass and I’m pretty sure he didn’t deserve that last chop to the throat.”

April Fool’s.  Motherfu***rs.

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com