Mike Babcock’s decision could come as soon as Wednesday, according to reports. Babcock said he’s done with the interview process and plans to speak with his family and Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland Tuesday before he comes to a final decision.
Mike Babcock is inching closer to making his decision about where he will be coaching next season and his free agent saga could come to an end Wednesday.
The longtime Detroit Red Wings coach told MLive.com’s Ansar Khan that he has now talked to every team he is going to speak to about their coaching vacancies and that he is planning on talking things through with his family and Detroit GM Ken Holland one more time.
“Just going to re-visit everything one more time (with Holland),” Babcock told Khan. “I’ve talked to all the teams I’m talking to.”
Now those teams, which include the Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks, will simply have to wait for news on where Babcock is choosing to go. Each of the Maple Leafs, Sabres and Sharks filed paperwork to compensate the Red Wings should they hire Babcock. The compensation would see Detroit receive a third-round pick in one of the next three drafts.
As for who has the best shot at landing Babcock, there hasn’t been much indication about where he intends to go outside of speculation. Reports surfaced Monday evening and Tuesday morning, however, that it is believed the Maple Leafs, thought to be one of the early frontrunners, are no longer being considered as one of Babcock’s options.
During Sportsnet’s broadcast of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final, Elliotte Friedman said he felt Toronto was at the bottom of Babcock’s list as the he wouldn’t want to come to the Maple Leafs in the early stages of a rebuild that would see the team lose for the next few seasons. That sentiment was echoed Tuesday morning by TSN’s Bob McKenzie during an interview with TSN 690. In speaking about the free agent coach’s situation, McKenzie said Babcock was, “definitely not coming to Toronto.”
It’s also been reported that Babcock has talked with the St. Louis Blues, although there has yet to be news of the club filing the necessary paper work for compensation and the team currently has Ken Hitchcock as their bench boss. Hiring Babcock would complicate the coaching situation in St. Louis, and it’s unlikely he goes to the Blues.
Both Friedman and McKenzie said that the two teams that seem to have the best shot at landing Babcock are the Red Wings and Sabres, with McKenzie telling TSN 690 he thinks the situation in Buffalo interests Babcock.
Ultimately, the decision will come down to where Babcock thinks he can find the best fit for himself going forward.
“I learned a lot. I talked to lots of good people,” Babcock told Khan. “I kept Kenny abreast the whole time. We’ll talk one more time (Tuesday) and then I’ll sit down with my family one more time (Tuesday) night and make a decision.”
According to WGRZ’s Adam Benigni, Babcock has entered into contract talks with the Buffalo Sabres regarding their coaching vacancy.
While no decision has been reached, a report from The Associated Press’ John Wawrow says that Babcock and Sabres GM Tim Murray entered into negotiations this morning. According to Wawrow, an anonymous source said there are parts of the deal that need to be worked out. That does not, however, mean Babcock will absolutely become the next Sabres coach.
Buffalo’s coaching job became vacant at the end of the season after the club fired Ted Nolan. The Sabres finished last in the NHL this season.