A lot has been discussed about current Head Coach, Mike Babcock and his expiring contract at the end of the Red Wings season. For what it is worth, Babcock seems to avoid the media, newspaper, internet, radio, etc. very well, so he may not realize the stir he has caused.
The center of the hockey universe, Toronto, is currently looking for a Head Coach, along with Buffalo & Philadelphia, who are also two teams with a bottomless pit of money to throw at Babcock, who is considered the top coach in hockey.
This seems to increase the competition for the current Head Coach, who has routinely said he is simply focusing on the current season and playoffs and not a contract extension. Babcock has reportedly requested to be the top paid coach in hockey and deserves it with his track record.
The Red Wings, for their part, have offered (again, reportedly) a contract worth $3-3.5MM per year, which would accomplish that goal. Babcock is also more interested in simply being a Head Coach with input into the personnel decisions, but not complete control of a Coach & General Manager.
Reports of past interest in a position of complete roster control existed, but after his demand for Ken Holland to get Dan Cleary back only to see that others Holland had drafted & developed were better options, Babcock seemingly realized that he’s better at just focusing on coaching and not doing both. So, any reports that the Maple Leafs or Sabres will give him complete control probably will not sway his decision.
So, with the background of the current Babcock situation, here is a list of the 5 most likely people to be in charge of the Detroit Red Wings next season (with odds!):
Mike Babcock (1/2):
Despite the reports of the Sabres offering Babcock $5MM per year, the Sabres don’t have a history of success, have a mediocre roster at best & missed out on Conor McDavid in the Draft Lottery, a player that most coaches would change jobs for.
The Maple Leafs are in year 10 of a 5 year rebuild & starting over. Brendan Shanahan & Babcock also had a rocky relationship in Detroit near the end of Shanahan’s time here and is the current President of the Leafs. This may cost them more than $5MM per year to get Babcock to want to deal with that mess.
Babcock could simply be leveraging these teams to maximize his deal, push the Red Wings for a few extra bucks, knowing he’s not leaving in the back of his mind, which I believe is the most likely scenario
Todd McLellan (5/1):
McLellan spent three years as Babcock’s top assistant in Detroit, winning a Stanley Cup in his final year before moving on to take over behind the bench for the San Jose Sharks. After seven years as the boss in the bay, McLellan was let go for missing the playoffs for the first time under his direction.
The Sharks were always regular season wonders with epic failures in the playoffs, making the conference finals twice, but also losing in the first round twice as the favorites.
McLellan is familiar with the veterans in Detroit, the front office & has similar style to Babcock, this would be the easiest transition for keeping the status quo if Babcock left.
Dan Bylsma (10/1):
Bylsma, a Grand Haven native, is a Stanley Cup winner (lets not discuss when/who he beat) and despite being fired from Pittsburgh for perceived failures, the team certainly hasn’t improved with out him, perhaps showing his influence & coaching ability was stronger than the front office thought.
Bylsma did have the luxury of an incredible one two punch at center of Crosby & Malkin, but also had to deal with those two eating up so much cap room, the talent on the roster fell off so steeply that he was using a third and fourth line that was made up of mostly AHL players that could only contribute a few minutes a night.
Bylsma could return to the top of the coaching mountain with a roster as deep as Detroit has, if he’s given a shot.
Jeff Blashill (10/1):
Already in the Red Wings system as the Head Coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Blashill is perhaps the best candidate to transition the roster from Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg & Nicklas Kronwall to Thomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist & Petr Mrazek as the future.
Blashill has worked on developing “the kids” Babcock currently relies on has been leading the Griffins for 3 seasons now & would be a coach willing to rely on Anthony Mantha & Dylan Larkin in the NHL quicker than Babcock & give Ken Holland more financial flexibility by not demanding veterans that cost quite a bit more.
Claude Julien (15/1):
Another Stanley Cup champion, Julien is still the Head Coach of the Bruins, but that may be coming to an end quickly. Julien utilized a veteran roster to earn the B’s a Cup in 2010-11 & would fit well in Detroit with the current roster mix of veteran forwards that excel in a two way game.
Julien is a bit of a longshot, but if the Red Wings want proven success & believe that the roster is still capable of winning a Stanley Cup, Julien may be the best option out there if Babcock bolts.