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Monday, January 27, 2020

5 NHL teams linked to recently fired HC Mike Babcock

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On Wednesday, news broke that the Toronto Maple Leafs were firing head coach Mike Babcock.

Though Babcock failed to get the Maple Leafs to the promised land, you can bet he will find an NHL job sooner than later.

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In a recent piece published by The Hockey News, they linked Babcock to five potential destinations.

From The Hockey News:

Minnesota Wild
Not hard to connect the dots. Come the end of the campaign, current Wild bench boss Bruce Boudreau’s contract will expire. There’s little reason to believe that he’s going to last beyond this season, not with the Wild mired in the NHL basement and treading water as a franchise. So, add one part pending coaching vacancy with one part historically successful free-agent coach and there’s every reason for Minnesota to at least kick the tires on Babcock.

New Jersey Devils
How soon does Babcock want to go back to work? If it’s sometime within the next few weeks, is it all that far-fetched to believe he could get his wish in New Jersey? The Devils are grasping at straws. They’re one clear of dead-last in the Eastern Conference and NHL. Cory Schneider has been demoted to the AHL. Heck, Taylor Hall, who has one of the worst shooting percentages in the league, couldn’t buy a break right now if he took out an advance on the truckload he’ll command as a free agent this summer. There’s very little about this season that has gone according to plan, with New Jersey failing to even meet their bubble-team expectations.

San Jose Sharks

If the Sharks fail to reach the conference final, that might be where Babcock comes in. A word of caution, however? Many of the same issues that plagued Babcock’s Maple Leafs this season – far too many scoring chances and high-danger chances against despite being a dominant possession team – are similar to those currently afflicting the Sharks.

Seattle Whatchamacallits
Speaking with reporters this past week, Seattle GM Ron Francis divulged that the NHL’s newest franchise wasn’t working on a tight deadline as it pertained to naming the first coach in franchise history. In fact, Francis went as far as to say that it might not be until 2021 that the organization hired a bench boss. But, hey, these things can change in a hurry, and it’s not every day that a three-time conference championship-winning and one-time Stanley Cup-winning bench boss is on the job market. So, this could turn into a matter of striking while the iron is hot.

Tampa Bay Lightning

What if Jon Cooper’s bunch suffers a 30-plus point decline and misses the post-season? What if the Lightning eke their way into the playoffs and fall in the first round again? And what if they make it in, get on a roll, but, once again, can’t get over the hump? Three times this team has gone to the conference final. Only once have they won the thing. At some point, for better or worse, management will begin to think a coaching change is what’s necessary to take that final-but-all-important step. There’s a possibility, however slim it might be given Cooper signed an extension in March, that it could come by the end of this season.

If that’s the case, the door could be wide-open for Babcock. He’s proven that he can take a team with elite talent all the way to the promised land. (See: Detroit Red Wings, 2007-08.) Maybe the Lightning gamble that he can do it again. But Tampa Bay better feel awfully sure if they’re going to show Cooper, the winningest coach in franchise history, the door.

Nation, where do you think Babcock lands?

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