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Mike Babcock's contract with Maple Leafs a game-changer for coaches

Mike Babcock played it like a free agent athlete while landing a record $50 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, possibly changing the way coaches view their careers.

For the past two weeks, the hockey world buzzed about where Mike Babcock would coach next. Buffalo? Edmonton? San Jose? St. Louis? Montreal? Pittsburgh? Would he stay in Detroit?

The answer came Wednesday, and what’s funny is that it seems so obvious now.


Of course.

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan could always offer Babcock the most money (which matters to most of us); a strong, smart boss (which should matter to all of us); and the chance to resurrect Canada’s most popular team (which is incredibly appealing to Babcock).

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There was a time when coaches were seen as an extension of management, and there was a time when coaches grabbed any extension because they felt lucky to have any job at all. Babcock realized times have changed. Which elite coach will realize it next?