Brendan Shanahan's management and money talk in wooing Mike Babcock

Brendan Shanahan's management and money talk in wooing Mike Babcock

Oh how far Brendan Shanahan has come from his videos explaining suspension that had a feeling of "Cops" meets Oliver Stone’s explanations of the magic bullet from the film “JFK”.

In the Maple Leafs’ president’s arsenal, he has an analytical mind in Kyle Dubas – a man who actually embraces advanced stats rather than shuns it. He brought in Mark Hunter as director of player personnel – a man who has had success at the junior level with the London Knights. And now he has Mike Babcock as his head coach for a reported eight years and $50 million.

Babcock is a human being. He cannot walk on water or turn it into wine. But he has taken a Detroit Red Wings team, that was definitely on the down swing the last several years, made the playoffs with the group, and beat some pretty good squads in the postseason.

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If the Red Wings didn’t beat their opponent they took them pretty far – as they did with the Tampa Bay Lightning to seven games this year, and the same with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, a year they also beat the favored Anaheim Ducks in the first-round.

Smart hockey people don’t just jump at any opportunity. They want to go places that have sound management. They want to go places that have the right people in place to win. They want to go to a place where they see upward trajectory.

The Maple Leafs of a year ago, pre-Shanahan, not so much. Now … they absolutely have that appearance, though their personnel has something to be desired still.

It’s interesting that Shanahan never really had a team management position before the Maples Leafs. But this isn’t like a former player getting handed the keys to an organization before he’s really been on the internal side of the business for a number of years. Shanahan spent time at the NHL offices with the Department of Player Safety.


Going to major events, you speak to other people around the league and pick their brains.

We asked Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake a while back how working at the DoPS helps a person become a good manager.

“The only thing that’s really important is you’re involved with all the General Managers and Board of Governors meetings. So you’re around,” he said. “You meet all the GMs. They talk to you and they open up to you because they’re not trying to make deals with you. You’re not an enemy of the team.”

How much this helps can be deemed somewhat questionable, just because there are several former player/old school hockey minds out there who are clueless (cough, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish, cough).


It certainly helps that Shanahan is loaded with a blank wad of cash from Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. But money isn’t the end-all be-all when it comes to wooing the right type of talent.

The New York Rangers from the late 90s and early 2000s are proof of this.

As a former player, Shanahan, who played for the smartly investing Red Wings during those times, probably knows this

This is going to be a process. The NHL is not college football where you can hire a coach and he can bring in like 20 five-star recruits next year. In Toronto, Babcock inherits a roster full of holes mixed with prima donnas.


But he clearly felt confident in Shanahan to make this jump.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!