Mike Babcock has really set the hockey world a buzz with his new contract. The center of the universe gets a new savior/target to try and resurrect the Maple Leafs franchise. $50 million seems a little ridiculous to say the least, but to deal with the Toronto media maybe it’s not enough.
Mike Babcock is a great coach. Look at his NHL winning percentage and the one Stanley Cup ring he has and teams would be stupid to not try to steal him this year. He has kept Detroit competitive through the changing of the guard in Detroit from Yzerman to Lidstrom to Datsyuk. Detroit is a great franchise that hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1989-90. They have had some great drafts (and some luck) and continue to develop talent.
Vancouver as an organization has always looked at the "Detroit model" as the standard. Never rebuild, but constantly retool, draft well and create an atmosphere players want to play in. I truly believe that Detroit has a great GM, some fucking crazy luck in the draft and got some great coaches. (Remember that guy named Bowman) But I think even Scotty might have trouble believing a coach is worth $6.25 million a year. So many things have to occur that the coach has no control over that it is unrealistic to think Babcock can make miracles occur in TO.
I think Babcock had numerous reasons to leave Detroit at this time. Besides the huge chunk of change he knew he’d get, he may have wanted a new challenge at this time of his life when he is still relatively young for a coach. But another reason for leaving could be the fact that the he sees hard times ahead for the Wings. The superstars like Zetterberg and Datsyuk are near retirement and there is no heir apparent. The Wings have some good players but no realistic chance of getting to a Cup in the next few years unless they abandon Holland’s developmental model and trade young talent and picks for proven talent, which Holland has not wanted to do at the trade deadline. The Wings have had trouble attracting free agents who can have a large impact. All of these combined would lead to large amounts of frustration for Babcock and let’s face it, this guy wants to win…bad. By moving to TO, Babcock has a star in Kessel and some very good pieces to support Kessel. Toronto has ownership that is willing to spend money on new talent (not always wisely…COUGH…COUGH…Clarkson). And more importantly, Babcock will probably have more of a say in the direction of the team with his old friend Shanahan.
But back to the Detroit model. I think we finally get to see if the Detroit model is as sound as people believe or was it the coaching and system of Babcock? Detroit has some great players, but will they be able to continue winning without Babcock or has the system created a team that will always compete and make the playoffs?
So what do you think will happen to Detroit? Is Holland really the man driving the team and the next coach will have the pieces to move forward to the next playoffs? Or was Babcock the mastermind who knew exactly how to run this team and now the next coach is doomed to fail? (which means not making the playoffs) I guess we see which narrative dies this year….Detroit had the best coach or Detroit player development system is the best and always makes the playoffs.
I personally hope Detroit falls…hard. I want this for the simple fact I am tired of hearing Vancouver should be like the Detroit organization when it comes to one of the following: drafting or coaching/ player development. To try and take Detroit success and say it comes down to one thing is just stupid. To try and say any other team can copy the model of a team and create the same success is ridiculous. Detroit had 2 decades of stable ownership, smart management decisions on so many levels, great coaching at the NHL and minor league level, players who benefited from this strong organizational background and performed above their draft pick expectations. You can’t copy this. Hell, Detroit will never be able to recreate the situation they have had. So Vancouver fans and media should stop with this comparison.
I also hope the Leafs bomb. (Sorry Zandberg) Throwing stupid amounts of money at a coach to try and fix the problems created by years of questionable trades, FA signings and drafts seems….well….very Toronto. When Babcock became coach of Detroit, the team had stability and was a winner, Toronto is not. Babcock’s system worked well with the players in Detroit since he had knowledge of players in all levels of the organization. He knew their strengths and weaknesses. It will take time for him to get to know the Leafs players and make changes. The Leaf prospect pool might be thinner than the Nucks at this point. He has his work cut out for him and a media who has never used the word patience when it comes to building a team. I don’t know if Babcock has a better chance of winning a cup with Toronto, but at least he is being compensated for the headaches of the market.