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It’s pretty easy to connect the dots that would bring Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to take over the Edmonton Oilers:
He has an expiring contract with the Red Wings.
He’ll want to make a lot of money.
Darryl Katz has a lot of money. Maybe not, like, Little Caesar’s money, but money nonetheless.
Bob Nicholson was his boss with the Canadian Olympic team. Bob Nicholson is now a president in the Oilers organization.
Mike Babcock considers Saskatoon his hometown.
He coached in Red Deer.
These are obviously concrete, unwavering connections between the Oilers or their geographic home and the best coach in the NHL.
Does that mean he would ever, ever coach the Oilers? Even if the other 29 teams contracted the mump and the NHL was reduced to Edmonton intrasquad games?
Why in the world would Babcock even consider coaching a team which four good men — Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger and Dallas Eakins — couldn’t win with?
Well, what if they finished 30th and won the draft lottery?
Connor McDavid is supposedly a generational player the likes of Sidney Crosby. And the consolation prize, Jack Eichel, is supposed to rank up there, too. Even if that didn’t happen, Babcock would certainly have an idea what’s involved with this team having hired Renney as his associate coach in Detroit after he was fired by the Oilers.
Right now it would qualify as tampering. But when the time comes, as one source who has worked with Nicholson and Babcock made the point to your agent Wednesday, it only makes sense for the former Hockey Canada boss to talk to him first. “He’d have to talk to him. Why wouldn’t he? There’s no salary cap on coaches. And there’s a relationship between the two of them that goes back to 1997.”
Honestly, because Terry Jones is pretty good at this, by the end of the column you’re like “huh … maybe?”
But the idea that Babcock would show more loyalty to Nicholson than he would Ken Holland and Mike Ilitch is hard to comprehend. Not as hard as Babcock taking over a major reclamation project in Edmonton when winning is his only obsession, but still difficult to conceive.
And why the hell would Babcock go from the smooth machine of the Red Wings’ front office to the nostalgia-fueled finger-pointing contest in Edmonton anyway?