After turning down an offer to remain the head coach of the then, Anaheim ‘Mighty’ Ducks, Mike Babcock ended up signing a contract to become the new head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. Babcock’s tenure as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings lasted a decade. In ten season as head coach in Detroit, Babcock compiled a .649 win percentage, leading the Red Wings to four, 50-win seasons, three Western Conference Finals appearances, and two Stanley Cup Finals appearances.
The Red Wings reigned supreme during the 2007-2008 season, when they claimed the Stanley Cup by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. The next season the Wings found themselves right back in the Stanley Cup Finals and saw the Penguins as their opponent once again. It was the first time the Red Wings had been in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals since the 1996-1997 & 1997-1998 seasons. The outcome wasn’t nearly as good as a year before as Pittsburgh would down Detroit in seven games and skate the Stanley Cup around Joe Louis Arena’s ice.
Babcock was well respected all around the league. He was a no nonsense type of guy that demanded a lot out of his players and usually got everything he could get out of them. His ‘puck possession’ style of play and ability to really zero in on certain skills that his hockey team possessed seemed to give Babcock quite an advantage over other teams.
On May 20th of 2016, Babcock left the Red Wings’ organization to join the Toronto Maple Leafs when he signed an eight-year, $50 million dollar deal to become their new head coach. The deal made him the highest paid head coach in NHL history. At the time, everybody in Hockeytown pretty much knew that Babcock wouldn’t be returning for his 11th season behind the bench in Detroit, so it really wasn’t much of a surprise. He showed some real class and took out a full page ad in the Detroit Free Press, thanking the fans of Detroit for all of their support over the years. Jeff Blashill replaced Babcock as the new head coach for the Wings shortly after.
Mike Babcock was one heck of a dependable guy to have behind the bench every night for the Red Wings. He gave us a comfortable feeling knowing that we would have a well oiled machine in Hockeytown as long as he was the guy behind the bench. The last few years of his time in Detroit, it was evident that people started to grow tired and a change was needed in regards to who should be the head coach for the Wings. Yes, he is now at the helm for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but one thing is for certain, Babcock’s legacy has a permanent stamp in Detroit sports history.