- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Think about the best unrestricted free agents to hit the market. Your Ilya Kovalchuk, your Brad Richards, your Steven Stamkos (potentially).
Everyone wants them on their team, sure, but how many teams actually present the opportunities these players are looking for? How many can meet their price point? How many do they dismiss summarily just because they don’t want to go there?
All of this is to say that the market is limited for an elite free agent, and that goes for a player or a coach, in the case of Mike Babcock.
We all figured ego and power and money would draw him away from the Detroit Red Wings at season’s end to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Or that the Pittsburgh Penguins would treat Mike Johnston as a stop-gap. Or, perhaps, that the Montreal Canadiens would swap out Michel Therrien for him.
All these scenarios are a bit more complicated two months into the season. The latter two teams are among the best in the League under their current coaches, while the Leafs’ dysfunction make them anything but palatable for a guy that’s living on an altar of worship in his current gig for years.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings don’t suck; and, on top of that, are showing glimmers of the next wave of star forwards that’ll move in for Zetterberg and Datsyuk at some point.
So while we all fantasy-casted Mike Babcock out of Motown – He wants too much power! The Red Wings are in decline! – beat writer Ansar Khan of Mlive.com believes Babcock is staying.
Nothing is 100 percent. I thought it was 50-50 at the start of the season. Now, because of the way the team is playing and the positive long-term outlook, I think he'll stay.
I'm fairly certain it's not a money issue. I think he wants to be with the organization that has the best chance of winning and competing for a Stanley Cup in the next few years.
I like Detroit's outlook better than Toronto's. I'm guessing Babcock does, too.
There probably is concern that the Red Wings' best players are aging - Pavel Datsyuk is 36, Henrik Zetterberg is 34 and Niklas Kronwall is 33.
But they have a lot of young talent on the roster (Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith).
And they're well-stocked at each position in the system. Forwards Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin look like high-end prospects. They have five defensemen in Grand Rapids who might wind up in the NHL (Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul, Nick Jensen and Mattias Backman). And goaltender Petr Mrazek, current in Detroit due to Jonas Gustavsson's shoulder injury, is a top talent.
Khan sees Babcock signed in-season rather than belaboring this into the offseason.
There’s still a part of me that thinks Babcock wants a new challenge elsewhere, and that being the conquering hero in Toronto or Pittsburgh would be that challenge. But if the Red Wings are going to meet his price point -- reportedly $3 million annually -- there’s no question the comfort zone he’s in with ownership and his general manager have to be an appealing draw for him to remain in Detroit for many moons to come.
In reality, he might be doing another franchise a favor. We love Mike Babcock the coach. But Mike Babcock the player personnel guy made the Dan Cleary contract happen, among other faux pas.