Former Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock has landed a new gig after eight months off after being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs last November.
He's taken a job as a volunteer advisor for the University of Vermont hockey program. And let's just say they're full of praise for him, especially head coach Todd Woodcroft, who compared him to two of the greatest coaches in history in their respective sports:
“He’s a Hall of Fame coach, he’s the equivalent of a Bill Belichick, the equivalent of a Phil Jackson. This is one of the top coaching minds who transcends any sport,” he said.
“At the end of day all I really care about is making these players better and giving them every chance of being a professional player,” he continued. “I talk to Mike about two, three times a week and all we talk about is UVM hockey. This guy is all in. He talks about the team as a we.”
Of course, nobody can knock the resume of Babcock, who served as Red Wings head coach from 2005 to 2015 before signing a record-breaking deal with Toronto later that summer. He's 8th all time in NHL wins for a head coach, a Stanley Cup winner, and a two-time gold medal winner as head coach of Team Canada in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.
However, Babcock has come under scrutiny following his firing by Toronto in November. Several former players have spoken out about his harsh treatment of them, notably Johan Franzen, who described Babcock as “the worst person I've ever met”:
“As a coach he is extremely accurate and prepared,” Franzen said. “He is great at putting together a gaming system and getting everyone to buy into it. That’s his strong side.
But then he’s a terrible person, the worst person I’ve ever met. A bully who cheated on people, it could be cleaners in the Detroit arena or anyone. He jumped on people just because.”
Woodcroft is aware of the allegations against Babcock, but has described his interactions with him as nothing but great:
“When you’re a head coach in a market like Toronto, every single thing you do is viewed 24 hours a day,” he said. “There are multiple channels on television and in radio that are dedicated to hockey and to the Leafs that are specific.”
“So I’m in no position to say that I understand what happened in Toronto and I would never discount the experiences of any person. What I can tell you is that with my experiences with Mike have been the exact opposite. I’m the boss here, the buck stops with me and Mike is very cognizant of that, he’s aware of that fact that he’s here to help this coaching staff and his primary responsibility is to work with the coaching staff and to make us better coaches.”
– – Quotes via Alex Abrami of The Burlington Free Press Link – –