DETROIT – Mike Babcock could’ve chosen to be a free agent next summer, shopping a coaching resume that includes a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold to the highest bidders.
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t want to let Babcock go and he and his family wanted to stay. On Monday, Babcock signed a four-year extension that seems like a win for everyone.
“I’m a big believer that the grass isn’t always greener, you just need to use fertilizer and water where you’re at,” Babcock told The Associated Press. “We got a good thing going here and this contract means I won’t have to move my youngest daughter in high school.”
Detroit, which hosts the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, is off to a 2-0 start in Babcock’s sixth season with the storied franchise.
The Red Wings hired Babcock when the Anaheim Ducks let him go after he led them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003. Then, he became the first coach to have 50-win seasons in his first four years with an NHL team.
Babcock helped the Red Wings hoist the Stanley Cup in 2008 and come within one win of repeating the next season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He helped the host team win gold at the Vancouver Games earlier this year, becoming the first coach to win Olympic gold medal, the Stanley Cup title and International Ice Hockey Federation world championship.
“His stock as a head coach is probably as high as anybody’s and he could’ve gone on the open market next summer,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We started talking about it in June and July, went our separate ways, and we knew this would get done. He loves it in Detroit.”
The Red Wings are pretty fond of Babcock, too.
He still seems as determined on a daily basis to push the Red Wings to reach their potential as he was when the hard-driving coach shouted at them to skate faster during one of his first pre-season morning skates five years ago.
The 47-year-old Babcock is driven to be the best on the bench, so he polled some peers about potentially going on the market following the season.
He called Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff and Nashville coach Barry Trotz to get their take on staying in the same place for a long time. He also gave Dave Tippett a ring because he was coming off his first season in Phoenix after six years in Dallas.
“I said, ‘Tipper, do I need to go someplace different to try to be the best I can be?'” Babcock recalled. “He said, ‘Not a chance.’
“I didn’t really want to go, but I would’ve been in a position to get a long-term deal somewhere and still let my youngest daughter be in the same place through high school. Now, she can do that here. Me and my wife are thrilled about that.”
Babcock, Holland and assistant Jim Nill are under contract with the franchise through the 2014-15 season.
“Mike’s family has made roots here with their kids in school and it has become their home like it has for my family and the Nills,” Holland said. “He knows we have committed ownership and he believes in our players, scouts, and front office so this made sense for him and for us.”