Mike Babcock granted permission to talk to NHL teams


TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Mike Babcock, arguably the top coach in the NHL, has been granted permission by the Detroit Red Wings to gauge the interest of other teams in his services.

This is obviously an important development for the teams potentially making a coaching change this summer.

Babcock, should he become available, is obviously the top free agent coach on the market, the guy that every team looking to make a change would love to add. The problem has been that nobody was certain that he would be leaving the Red Wings, which meant that a club could potentially hold off on hiring him, lose out on the other top-end candidates (notably Todd McLellan) on the market and then find that they never had a shot at Babcock in the first place.

As McKenzie notes, today’s decision to allow Babcock to explore his options does not mean he’ll definitely leave Detroit, but it does give teams the chance to figure out what’s going on:

Mike Babcock3

As strange as it is to say, Edmonton does kind of seem like the most obvious alternative to Detroit.

As has been well-documented over weeks of speculation, there are plenty of reasons for the Oilers to be attractive to any prospective coach. Connor McDavid is obviously at the top of the list with a bullet, but the promotion of Bob Nicholson to CEO and the hiring of Peter Chiarelli aren’t far behind on the list. In those two moves Edmonton added the most anticipated player to enter the league in the last decade and made the changes which promise the kind of competent and professional management the team has lacked for ages.

Add in an owner with lots of money and a track record of spending to the cap, a new arena which guarantees team stability and high-end facilities and a promising group of young non-McDavid players (including some bright and shiny new defencemen) and the Oilers are an incredibly compelling team. 

There are a million details to work out, and even if Babcock is interested he won’t come cheaply. In addition to the draft pick Detroit will get in exchange, the Oilers will be forced to sign a big, fat check and potentially hand over significant influence on the hockey operations side. 

The trade off is that Babcock is one of, if not the, top coach in hockey. Sometimes it just makes sense to pay for proven high-level ability. 

  • Oilfaninvan

    Classy move Detriot. They know how much this will effect the entire coaching fraternity. Methinks that it’s already a done deal for Babcock staying in Detriot though.

  • 5 Cups

    McLellan is a great option and probably the most likely candidate, BUT the Oilers would not be diligent in their search of a HC if they didn’t reach out the Babcock.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Would love to see Babcock coach the Oilers. They would have tons of potential under Babcock, especially now with McDavid. I’m not sure who wouldn’t want to coach the Oilers now.

  • RomZ

    Hey Jonathan,

    Can you post how the new rules for coaches/gms signing with different clubs before contract expires and draft pick compensation works.

    Will it affect Oil if we hire Babcock or Mclellan?

    Are we losing a pick the way that Chi was hired even though it was reported he was fired? Heard rumors figured you would know or know how to find out.

  • CaptainLander

    Well if the Oilers land this guy, with McDavid and a management change that is able to add some good pieces on the back end and in goal …and still manage to suck as sucky as they have sucked in the passed 9 sucky years then we can definitively say that this team has something fundamentally wrong at the core.

    Which is well not a terrible thing, sure it would suck but unlike last year at least we would actually know what is wrong. Still to me the reason the Oil sucked so bad this year was a bit surprising.

  • RomZ

    Any team that signs him has to sign a compensation letter for the Red Wings first.

    Chris Johnston ‏@reporterchris 8m minutes ago
    Any team looking to hire Mike Babcock will have to send a third-round draft pick to the #redwings as compensation.


      Is it the same if the team has given permission for talks like Detroit did with Babcock? I mean he’s worth the third, and I doubt detroit would ask for it anyway, but this rule is dumb.

      • RomZ

        From what I gather its a 3rd round pick no matter what what team it is regardless if Detroit has given permission. The team giving up the pick (team who signs him) can decide whether its 2015, 2016, or 2017

      • RomZ

        Absolutely. I would imagine if the oilers signed him they would be inclined to give them the 2017 3rd rounder. You would think we would be a much improved squad by then

  • The Soup Fascist

    Please there is absolutely no way he would coach a team like the leafs right now. Everyone says thats where he wants to go. Why? They are not gonna move kessel or Phaneuf with such terrible contracts and even if they do it will be for picks and mediocre veterans. Philadelphia has no connection wih Babs and has had cap issues since before I was born. San Jose is basically the same as Detroit aging veterans minus Couture. If I’m Babcock I’m staying in Detroit if I’m loyal, but if I have any will to win(which is the reason he is leaving Detroit) Edmonton is my only real option. We trade our PIT pick for a goalie, trade for one of Seabrook, Hamilton and Byfgliuen and you fix most of the problems we have now.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    If you can get Babcock, you take him. That simple. McLellan is an outstanding coach, but the thing that makes me lean towards Babcock is the types of team both coaches had, and the results they managed with them.

    McLellan had a high powered, offensive team in San Jose and couldn’t quite win the cup. Babcock had less skill, but his teams check a lot tighter. Defense wins championships, remember. He proved that his great defensive systems weren’t a direct result of Lidstrom’s otherworldly skill, by making the playoffs after he retired.

    He proved he could handle high-flying offense while still keeping his team defensively sound during the Olympics (possibly the greatest display of domination and prowess I’ve ever seen on the ice).

    I believe Babcock could turn Nuge and Draisatl into two of the premier defensive players in this league, without sacrificing their offense. Obviously any coach will want a chance to mentor McDavid, but he’s gotta like the fact that Nurse is on the way as well.

    Do everything in your power to sign him.

  • RomZ

    If I were reading the tea leaves, I’d guess that Detroit has made an offer, and Babcock has the opportunity to talk to other teams to beat that offer. If the Red Wings come in at $3.5m, and the Oilers offered $5m, then the Wings would then need to match or see him leave for a 2017 3rd rounder.

    I don’t see the downside of throwing a big offer. The season tickets for the new arena had people complaining left and right. I haven’t heard one complaint since the lottery. “I have to pay how much to watch a Babcock-coached team that stars McDavid, Nurse and others? Here you go.” And even if Babcock stays, the new GM gets to say he made his best effort, and there are no complaints re: Maclellan.

    I hope MacT is taking notes.

  • NJ

    The pick can be waived by the team losing the coach / gm etc.. As was the case in Shero signing in New Jersey, Pittsburgh waived the right to the pick as a professional courtesy as Shero, though still (technically) under contract with the Pens. He had been unemployed for the past year and it made no real sense for the pens to be compensated.

    That’s my understanding of the new rule. Facts are, wherever Babcock ends up, he would have strong connections to Detroit and for Detroit to claim a 3rd rounder wouldn’t make a lot of sense considering that relationship trumps a 3rd rounder any day ….

    Source: http://www.pensburgh.com/2015/5/5/8548495/penguins-former-gm-ray-shero-goes-to-new-jersey

  • Jaxon

    Many can argue the merits of both MacLellan and Babcock and I can see those merits. I think one thing that Babcock might do better than MacLellan is attract elite free agents. Babcock doesn’t piss off his players and he has shown that he can make above average players into stanley cup contenders. I think just the perception that he is a better coach with a higher profile is the factor that makes him the premier choice for the Oilers. If I’m a high profile free agent and I see McDavid, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Nurse, Yakupov, Pouliot, Draisaitl, Klefbom and kind a Schultz (based on his perceived ‘potential’) on the lineup on a team staffed with Babcock, Chiarelli and Nicholson I’m jumping all over that to join the ride to becoming a contender. A rising tide lifts all boats. I think it will cause a bit of a domino effect on the first day of free agency if Chiarelli gets one, then two, then three high profile free agents.

    I think, with Babcock, he could more easily convince Sekara, Franson and Niemi to come at a good market rate and play for him. I would also consider Ehrhoff instead of Sekara and I think I’d like to see maybe a cheaper younger Neuvirth or Greiss instead of Niemi, but Niemi may do more to convince Sekara and Franson to come to Edmonton.

    They may have to then make some salary dump trades of Nikitin, Purcell, Gordon & Hendricks to make it work and pick up a few more cheap free agent options to replace them. Maybe players like Blake Comeau (from Alberta), Marcel Goc and Scottie Upshall (from Alberta).

    Trade Gordon, Hendricks, Nikitin or Purcell for picks and prospects as the Oilers will need cheap entry level contracts as their stars move into their 2nd contracts. Maybe trade for a prospect like Petrovic in Florida, Pysyk in Buffalo, or RW Stefan Noesen in Anaheim. Maybe Babcock et al can also attract a more elite goaltending coach to help convince a player like Matt O’Connor to come to Edmonton as well. If Pysyk or Petrovic work out that may give the team more flexibility to trade Schultz for a missing piece.

    Nicholson – Chiarelli – Babcock

    Hall / McDavid / Pakarinen (Sc1A)
    Pouliot / Nugent-Hopkins / Eberle (Sc1B)
    Comeau / Draisaitl / Yakupov (Sc3)
    Lander / Goc / Upshall (DZS with 2 that can take draw)
    Klinkhammer / Roy / Fraser (Insurance depth for inexperience and rookies)

    Sekara / Fayne (1st Pair)
    Klefbom / Franson (2nd Pair)
    Marincin / Schultz (3rd Pair)
    Ference / Petrovic or Pysyk (7th D and injury callups)
    Nurse (mid-season call up)

    Niemi (Or Neuvirth or Greiss) (#1)
    Scrivens (Backup / 1B)
    O’Connor and Broissoit (working towards a callup)

    I could see the Oilers picking up a RD at #16 (Nicolas Meloche?) and goalie in the 2nd round like Tomek or Blackwood.

    I think that’s a playoff team.

  • rayrayj

    Just sign mclellan to a nice contact and stop playing around,I don’t think babcock is going to go anywhere and it could make us lose out on mclellan,there another rumor that Edmonton reached out to peter deboer from NJ devils bad,bad idea.. Just sign mclellan and get it done!!!!

  • Johnnydapunk

    In a tiny aside, if someone hires Eakins or Nelson, then the Oil are to get a 3rd round pick from the team that hires one or both of them, as they are both under contract by the Oil despite Eakins getting fired. Fingers crossed that someone hires Eakins and then if the Oil manage to get Babcock, it would mean the Oil have in a way traded Babcock and A third round pick for Eakins and a 3rd.

    That would make for one of the best Oiler accidental “trades” ever.