UPDATE: Reacting to this morning’s story, Mike Babcock told reporters that he’s not even close to signing an extension with the Red Wings.
“That's like a fantasy,” he said. “Ken Holland and I talked before the year. We agreed we wouldn’t [negotiate in-season]. Out team’s going good. We don’t need any distractions.
“I’m happy here. I like the general manager. But as far as negotiations between Mike Babcock and Ken Holland, there [are] none. I’m telling you the truth right here. Nothing’s happened.”
Detroit has an offer on the table that would make Babcock the NHL’s highest paid coach, but he reaffirmed that he would not make a decision on whether to re-sign until the off-season.
“There’s nothing more to tell,” he said. “I’m not hiding anything. I’m not making anything up. This is just reality.”
THE ORIGINAL STORY:
Sounds like next summer’s top free agent is about to come off the market.
According to Bob Duff, Mike Babcock will be signing an extension with the Red Wings that will make him the highest paid coach in the NHL. The deal, Duff said, will be announced sooner rather than later, possibly before the league’s Christmas break.
That flies in the face of recent speculation that Babcock would explore his options with teams like the Maple Leafs, the Flyers and the Sharks. Each of those teams could possibly be looking for a fresh take from behind the bench.
Extending Babcock's contract makes perfect sense. There was always a good chance that Detroit would ante up—probably upwards of $3 million per season; it was just a matter of whether or not Babcock would be content to stay put, or whether he would be driven to find a new challenge.
On Tuesday, Babcock tipped his hand, calling these Wings his best Detroit team since the 2008–09 club that lost to Sidney Crosby's Penguins in a seven-game Stanley Cup finals. And with the Red Wings currently battling for the top spot in the East, you can bet that Babcock is having fun.
“I’m real happy in Detroit and doing everything I can to do a good job so I can stay where I’m at as long as I can,” Babcock told Duff.
He surely isn’t the only happy guy in the league today. Assuming Babcock is off the market, every endangered coach just got an extension on his own shelf life.