The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/06/14 at 08:36 AM ET
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock seems to have at least taken some amusement from the media's suggestions that his end-of-season comments about his contract status hinted that he "wants out," but Babcock--who will be named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year in a couple hours--generally reserves his meanest, zap-holes-through-you death stares for members of the media who attempt to put words in his mouth. He hates the practice with a passion.
You can hear the near-growl in Babcock's voice when he responds to a question with, "I didn't say that" or, "I never said that." Regrettably, the coach's repeated radio appearances stating that he's happy in Detroit, that he wants to remain with the Red Wings after his contract expires next summer, and that he feels his relationship with his general manager and ownership are productive two-way streets...
Have done absolutely nothing to quell the coaching rumor mill from turning. This morning, the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk's declared that the, "Maple Leafs should go big with Babcock," suggesting the following...
In a curious development in Detroit, Babcock has said it’s doubtful he will talk with the Red Wings about a contract extension this summer. There have been suggestions that he’s waiting to see what the Red Wings will do to upgrade their roster; that he’s of the mind Detroit’s Stanley Cup window may have already closed in the waning days of the Datsyuk-Zetterberg era; that the man who’s won pretty much everything at age 51 might be intrigued by the idea of new challenges. He might enjoy working in a place where playoff games aren’t taken as a ho-hum given.
We all saw Babcock lapping up the spotlight in Sochi earlier this year: he relished his time at the centre of the hubbub created by Canada’s national team. His stellar work at the Olympics, on the bench and on the podium, is only proof he’d be the perfect daily spokesman for the country’s most fussed-over NHL team.
But this isn’t simply about media savvy. Babcock is a better fit for this Leafs roster than [coach Randy] Carlyle ever will be. For two-plus seasons Carlyle’s been trying to get a speed and finesse team to play a power game. It would be intriguing to see Babcock, a believer in the power of puck possession, trying to flip Toronto’s notoriously hopeless shot differential on its head.
What else could the Leafs offer Babcock other than a possibly impossible task? Well, he’s making a reported $2 million in Detroit; the Leafs, who have money above all things, could heap far more on his annual pay stub.
And this is baffling as baffling can be--it's patently false, too...
Those who know him say he’d also like more say in organizational decisions, which can’t happen in a Detroit hierarchy in which the accomplished Ken Holland runs the show. Shanahan, a self-professed consensus builder who’s heading into in his rookie season running an NHL franchise and played a season under Babcock in Detroit, could woo his former coach with the promise of input and influence.
While this is just dumb:
[If] Holland and Babcock see their relationship heading for a mutually agreeable end — and the lack of an extension suggests this is likely — maybe Holland doesn’t put up much of a fight. Maybe the Red Wings don’t relish the idea of spending the next year with Babcock in limbo and musing publicly about the direction of the franchise. And even if it might give Holland pause to envision Babcock coaching a division rival, maybe the Red Wings are of the belief they, too, are in need of a change.
Feschuk continues, but in doing so, he proves that the "Leaf Media" has no grasp on the situation at all, and that any sort of situation in which Babcock would leave the Red Wings to join Toronto or any other Canadian team would involve significant every-day dealings with a media corps in which words were shoved into the coach's mouth.
Babcock made the Red Wings' interns print out and highlight EVERY instance of his name being mentioned by the media during the 2009 Stanley Cup Final so he could keep tabs on those who were misquoting him, and that's all you need to know about the concept of money buying happiness for a coach who's going to remain in Detroit for a long time to come.
You can't have him, Toronto. He's our slightly loony, slightly paranoid, slightly innervating genius, and in Detroit, Babcock's repeatedly stated that he's happy, he's working for an organization with "ultracompetitive" people and a general manager who lets the coach speak his mind regarding the player personnel decisions, and he's probably going to get a big, fat raise to continue coaching here over the next six to eight months.
It's not gonna happen, especially if you keep stuffing words into his mouth, because he hates that.
Quickie update: And let's not forget that Brendan Shanahan was one of the three or four players who LEFT DETROIT because he and Babcock didn't get along (Robert Lang, Mathieu Schneider and Mike Commodore are the other confirmed cases)--and that Babcock's stubborn bull-headedness didn't mesh well with Shanahan's personality at all...
Quickie update #2: FYI:
Mr. Richard Peddie was the CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Let's just go with, "Not gonna happen" here.
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