The Malik Report
Mike Babcock did thank the Red Wings and praise his relationship with Ken Holland and Mike Ilitch during his opening presser as the coach of the Maple Leafs:
Babcock also stated that he also needed to bring out a box of Kleenex when he finally told Ken Holland that he was leaving.
Update: As was noted by CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak:
Babcock declined to re-sign with the Red Wings, opting instead to accept a reported eight-year, $50 million offer from the Maple Leafs. Detroit’s final offer was reported to be $20 million over five years.
“This was a hard decision,” Babcock said.
The coach met with Holland one more time Wednesday, and Babcock described the encounter as difficult.
“It was very emotional,” Babcock said. “I had to get the Kleenex box out when I sat in his office.”
Update #2: Here's a bit more from MLive's Ansar Khan:
Updated 3x with 2 videos at 1:16 PM: This is probably worth its own entry, yes?
Update: WOOD TV8 posted a video of Blashill's comments:
Update: No foolin':
It's all but as sure as an empty-net goal that Jeff Blashill will be replacing Mike Babcock as the next coach of the Detroit Red Wings, but Blashill is going to be very busy trying to beat the Utica Comets in the AHL's Eastern Conference Final starting on Sunday, and as such, Blashill discussed his dual focus--or really, his singular focus--with the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner this morning:
"To be honest, my focus this morning is everything it is going to take to get ready for Sunday," he said Thursday, a day after Mike Babcock's decision to leave the Red Wings for Toronto. "Ken knows me and I know Ken and when we sit down, it will be good to talk. But, right now, my focus is on trying to get this team ready for Utica."
How does Blashill separate one duty from the other?
"I guess in some ways I can do that because I live in such a day-to-day world," he said. "The day I sit down and talk to Ken is the day I will be thinking about the Detroit job. Today, I'm thinking about practice and travel and what it's going to take to win Game One against Utica. That's just the reality of the way I look at it."
Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski handed out "Winner" and "Loser" tags in the Mike Babcock sweepstakes (via RedWingsFeed), and I think he's spot-on regarding the Red Wings' status as embracing a Team Underdog status:
WINNER: DETROIT RED WINGS: The Wings reaffirm two important tenets of their franchise in seeing Babcock leave for bluer pastures.
First, that no man is above the Winged Wheel. Not Mike Babcock, not Scotty Bowman, not anyone. If Babs gets eight years and $50 million, he’s a demigod on a franchise that works best as a balanced machine.
The Wings were great before he arrived. They’ll be great after he’s gone.
Second, that the Wings look best when they’re the spurned, disrespected, chip-on-the-shoulder team, despite being an Original Six glamor franchise. Babcock leaving for the Leafs firmly establishes Detroit as the rejected underdog. They wear it well.
WINNER: JEFF BLASHILL: The 41-year-old AHL coach is expected to take over a playoff-worthy roster from Mike Babcock as the next Red Wings coach. His bargaining position couldn’t be stronger, having been framed as the ace in the hole in case Babs left. Which he did.
Updated 2x at 11:47 AM: WDFN's Matt Sheppard show was all about Mike Babcock this morning, and while you may most certainly listen to The Fan 590's Greg Brady or TSN's Jonas Siegel isue the Leafs' perspective on your own, Chris Osgood's take is worth your time:
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
"He's a great coach," said Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar, who spent one season with Blashill in Grand Rapids. "He's a good talker. He can motivate the players. I feel like the system and how he's willing to play with the players is really good.
"Players feel like they can talk to him. He's somebody who they can trust and feel good. He's really good with the players. I feel like the players can trust him. He's a really good coach."
"I love Blash," Jurco said. "He just understands the game really well. He's a really good guy and you can talk to him and he understands you a person. Great guy, great coach, and I only have great memories of him."
Blashill communicates well with players, according to Jurco.
"Yeah, he's a really good talker and that's one of the best things about him," Jurco said. "Every time he showed me something it was like 'You are right. I can do it differently.' He just understands it so well. He knows what the players can do a little differently.
"He's a great coach."
Wednesday, May 20th, was one of the longer days of my life. I knew it would be--that's part of the job of covering hockey news, and the Babcock sweepstakes, all 13 months of it, was going to have to end as bizarrely and with as thoroughly frenzied an ending as it did.
In terms of Mike Babcock's decision, I certainly cannot harbor ill will toward someone taking a $50 million offer (even though, as Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond pointed out in separate radio appearances, Canadian income taxes and the cost of living might very well wash out what Babcock's taking in probably-U.S.-dollar salary from Toronto), and I can't harbor too much ill will at Babcock for moving on after ten years...
But I had always believed, perhaps naively, that what Babcock wanted to do was to be a "lifetime coach," the kind of singular figure who would prove that in pro sports, you can remain relevant and successful during a collegiate-coach-length tenure.
Instead, the man who' climbed the Triple Gold Club's worth of the Seven Summits of coaching is going to Toronto for his moon shot, thinking that he can be the next Werner Von Braun.
I can't say that I wish him lots of luck given my natural dislike for the franchise whose name is an anagram for Ample Fleas, but I fear that his encounters with the corporate ownership and management of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will end up dooming his rocket the way Sergei Korolev's N1 turned out, and there is something to be said for the fact that the rocket not exploding on the pad might be the hardest accomplishment to achieve in one's attempt to guide a Maple Leafs team to a Stanley Cup championship.
We'll find out whether Babcock can land a team on the moon in eight years, or less.
Sometimes it's best to start at the end, and in the case of this missive by Sportnset's Jordan Heath-Rawlings, I get to ask you, "Do you think he's right?" and leave the debate up to you.
This is the main reason that it's so hard to stay on top in the NHL, or any high-stakes sports league: The best teams lose their best people because they simply graduate from a system when they stagnate near the top, or there isn't enough money to pay all the people who deserve it. It happens on the fields and off, and it's a reality Detroit has confronted several times in the past decade.
It's not possible to say if the Red Wings will survive the loss of Babcock as smoothly as they did the exits of other non-playing personnel, and it would be an insult to an excellent coach to say he had little to do with their past success. But in giving him kudos for his 2008 and '09 runs, it's also important to note that the team advanced beyond the first round just once in the past five years.
And if the Wings are going to turn that recent record around, it's going to be on the backs of the next generation--the Nyquists, Tatars, Smiths and Pulkkinens. And they're about to replace Mike Babcock with a coach who knows them as well as anyone and has already led them to one championship.
Just like they drew it up? Perhaps not, but a pretty damned good Plan B.
I'm a little bitter about today--I know, it's silly, Babcock chasing the kind of money and power he did isn't something to hold against the man--but I'm still upset, so I want to hold off and let my head stop spinning before weighing in...
Other than to say that when I heard Babcock say that he was going to do what was best for himself and that Holland would do what was best for the Wings last Friday, I knew he was gone.
The Toledo Walleye face an incredibly stiff deficit against the South Carolina Stingrays--they trail the ECHL's Eastern Conference Final 3 games to none--despite a Martin Frk hat trick that yielded a 2nd-and-3rd-period rally from 4-1 and 5-2 deficits to force overtime against South Carolina, which ultimately prevailed via a 6-5 OT win.
Frk registered a hat trick on 4 shots but finished at -3, so that tells you all you need to know about the Walleye's struggles to keep the puck out of their net, and the Walleye's website posted a game recap:
Updated 5x at 12:35 AM: The Detroit and Michigan-based media weighed in in earnest regarding Mike Babcock's departure, and the only way I can properly address said content is doing it the old-fashioned way--source-by-source, with the most important parts of the missives highlighted and the rest up to you to read:
About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.