I don't think this would be all that crazy. Presumably Babcock has as much money as he needs and doesn't feel like he needs to prove anything else in the NHL. Maybe he wants the character and skill devleopment opporunities that college would offer.
So… The Mike Babcock Thing
It could happen?
Red Berenson has two years left on his contract and says this will be his last one. Speculation about his replacement has been rife. Veritably so. Folks around the program have been chattering about Red Wings coach Mike Babcock taking over for a few years now, primarily Michael Spath at the Wolverine but also from guys at the Daily:
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) April 29, 2014
Despite the chatter, the idea a sought-after NHL coach would take the pay and prestige cut to pilot a college program has always been a "pull the other one, it has bells on" kind of thing. I have believed that people around the Michigan hockey program believe the thing about Babcock without really believing it myself.
That opinion is undergoing a bit of a shift.
Yesterday, a press conference sent the Michigan hockey blogosphere into a tizzy, and today fuller articles hit the News and MLive. While the comment about being Red's assistant is clarified as a joke by MLive. The fuller picture contained therein is one of a guy who seems to have a plan that involves having a job that's not necessarily with the Red Wings.
“I do want him back. I think we work good together.”
Coach, after mentally crossing out the word "good" and replacing it with "well":
Babcock, who turned 51 on Tuesday, said it was “no priority whatsoever” to get a new deal, adding “I doubt it” when asked if he’d talk extension.
That has to be unprecedented: a coach openly stating he doesn't care about a new contract. Charlie Weis is still getting paid, you guys.
Unfortunately, in context the quote about "definitely" staying in Detroit is just about next year, because he's got a daughter who's a senior in high school.
“My daughter’s going into her Grade 12 year. I’m either going to be the coach of the Red Wings or I’ll be Red’s assistant coach for a year,” Babcock said. “For sure I’m staying in Detroit. I haven’t thought about going anywhere else.”
So don't read too much into that.
Still, in marked contrast to a GM who says he'll discuss an extension with the club Babcock is talking about a year-to-year deal after this season. That is the kind of thing you do when you have something else in mind. It may be a temporary thing or he may be looking for a change of scenery to another NHL club. It is a concrete step towards Babcock at Yost, and as such gives the chatter out of Ann Arbor a credence it lacked yesterday.
I assume it goes without saying that locking down a guy who voluntarily left the Red Wings after a decade would be the coup to end all coups.
Babcock has won about as much as anyone can while coaching hockey. He's got a cup ring, 2 olympic golds, most wins in Red Wing history, likes the area and may, frankly, be looking to "retire".
IIRC he's already said he doesn't want to do the olympics again, he's the NHL's longest tenured coach and his time in Detroit is the longest he's been in one place since he started coaching.
Babcock played college hockey (McGill) and coached college at the beginning of his career too.
So if he's looking to dial back the amount of time/coaching he has to do (no more olympics, etc) but doesn't want to leave the game completely, moving to Michigan makes a lot of sense.
Would coaching at Michigan with all of the expectations really be that much easier than coaching the Red Wings?
would mean a paradigm shift in M hockey recruiting and maybe a shift in how college hockey is viewed as a whole.
The college hockey world should absolutely root for Babcock to coach Michigan as it would definitely revolutionize the perspective on college hockey to many neutral (esp. Canadian) observers and more importantly Canadian recruits.
If (big, universe-sized if) Babcock ever came here, I have to imagine we'd land a few classes akin to the classes Michigan used to steal in the 90's. What else do you say to "Hi, this is Mike Babcock. I want you to come play hockey at Michigan"?
What's with the Freep link, Cook? This boycott ain't over.
I'm thinking this would right the ship quite a bit on 2014. I'm not trying to get my hopes up too high; however.......damn....what a great fit. This would jump start the program....which isn't too damn shabby in the present tense. This needs to happen. The potential Saban of College Hockey? Yes, please.
Saban is universally viewed as a slimebag carpetbagger who chases money and wins. Babcock would be viewed as a brilliant hockey coach who wanted a new challenge and took a job in spite of a pay/prestige cut.
Which do you want to see? Stanley Cup ring or the Olympic Gold medal? I know how to win! Welcome to Michigan.
Saw him wearing maize & blue wristbands during a presser in the playoffs.
2 Olympic Golds, World Championship, Stanley Cup, but the Moby Dick of all championships eludes him still: the NCAA Championship.
Wouldn't hurt the recruiting much.
A shorter season where the team usually only plays a couple nights a week...seems perfect for Babcock, whom I love as Wings coach but also wonder about his ability to motivate the team night-in and night out (though I wondered about motivation among the Wings when Scotty was there, too - could just be that 82 games is a long season). The Red Wings are my first concern, and it would be a speedbump for sure to have a coach like Babcock up and leave to go to the college ranks, but that's a mighty organization which will be fine with just about anyone behind the bench. But the things someone like Babcock could do for Michigan's hockey program...hope they can make this happen.
Managing the tempo of an 82-game season must be a kind of art. Doubt the Bo Schembechler of professional hockey approach would work.
For sure. Though I sometimes have a hard time understanding when the players make it sound as though it's tough to get up for every game. You're playing hockey, guys. I have played in recreational leagues since I was six, and to this day I cherish every time I lace my skates up, I am still pumped every time I hop over the boards. I have little doubt it's different when it's your job, but I can't believe it's THAT different. Especially with the added challenge of knowing you're going out there against the best players in the world.
who played professional sports. They said it's no longer fun and felt like a grind. Your body takes it toll over the season that you're never 100% healthy until the start of the season. The players who have been there a long time are more motivated by the money as opposed to for the love of the game.
The football comparisons don't take into account how far down the pecking order college hockey is from the NHL. If, say, Bill Belichick left the Patriots to coach Penn State, that would be a step down but still within the realm of "well if he wants to be one of the sport's greatest legends that's one way to go." This is more like leaving the Pats to coach Saint John's.
Baseball probably works better -- like Joe Torre retiring from the Yankees/Dodgers to go coach UCLA.
incredibly great for Michigan. It would be interested to know if his daughter has any local universities in mind to continue her education. That could potentially add more fuel to the rumor mill here.
Thats a great point, nothing like being around on campus to help out when your youngest flies the nest.
Great news for Michigan - not so much Red Wings
With the new caps and the team consisting of very young or too old and nothing in between - I think the Red Wings are 1st round outs for a number of years and Babcock knows this.
The wings are victims of their own success. The past hirings of big free agents and signing good players to long contracts was copied by everone which led to the salary inflation and the lockout. Now there are no good free agents they are all locked into long term contracts.
Why bang your head against the wall for 5 years before you get another cup shot?
next. Why stop with Babcock?
...from a non-diehard...
What is Babcock's tie to either Red or Michigan? He didn't go there, play there, coach with Red, or play for him (as far as I can see on Wikipedia...apologies if I'm dead wrong on that)? Just general affinity and geographical proximity for many years?
Babcock played college hockey, and being the coach of the wings is the longest he's been in any 1 spot since he started coaching.
During the NHL lockout he hung out with Red a bunch as well. Hockey people and coaches are a bit different, it's not that surprising that Babcock would try to spend time with a hockey (not just Michigan hockey) legend in Red. Red was a damn good player in his day, helped make expansion hockey respectable in St. Louis, and is one of very few players to score 6 (SIX!) goals in an NHL game.
There's one connection. He's mentioned coming here for football games before.
Cool story, bro: saw him tailgating outside what used to be the Parkman Printing building on Hoover before UTLII
I don't want Coach Babcock to leave the Red Wings but if he was to leave the team I would like to lose him to my other hockey team. Go Wings and Go Blue!
Still, I find it unlikely for Babcock to leave the NHL, yet I'm encouraged it may be for Michigan if he decides to take a breather. It's more probable he takes a Canadian NHL job and after leading that franchise to a Stanley Cup championship he will ascend into Canada heaven after his bronze statue is placed on Parliament Hill.
Obviously he's considering it on some level - the rumors of this are too wide and have lasted too long to be nothing. I imagine it almost more like he's got a daughter at Michigan and another who may follow and his family may feel settled in the Detroit area or maybe Babcock is tired of the stress of the NHL but would still like stay in the area. If you're going to stay in Detroit but not coach the Wings, the next best job is Michigan by a mil. But I would seriously, seriously doubt he'd ever land here on those rumors alone.
Mark Burns tweet is a whole other story though. Those are very definite terms: "ppl. closely tied to Red when I covered UM that MB would be successor"
not "may be" or "has considered being" but "would be". That is quite the quote and if true, Babcock's comments and other rumors swimming around have left no reason to believe that those feelings have changed. It would melt everyones brains both inside and outside of Ann Arbor
Ahh, what do you know?
The fuller picture contained therein is one of a guy who seems to have a plan that involves having a job that's not necessarily with the Red Wings.
Babcock's comments aren't that unusual for him. He's pretty much by consensus the best coach in the NHL, even if he doesn't have a Jack Adams to show for it. He's been the wiining Olympic coach twice in four years. He does have a job pretty much wherever he wants. So yeah, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that he and Holland haven't talked extension, and that Babcock frankly feels like he has nothing to worry about from that standpoint. I don't understand where/how a little joke like this lends itself to this kind of speculation. He likes coaching the Red Wings a lot. So, what could possibly interest him in Michigan except for his daughter being here and Red staying around? I'd think he'd go back and coach McGill before he coached here.
I'd personally be mad as hell if this happens. Babs is a great coach for the Wings and unless they start missing the playoffs regularly I think it'd be a shame to have him drop what he's started with the next generation of players off to Blashill or whoever. He is what's holding the Wings together...the front office is somewhat in flux since Nill left.
100% pure Columbian Awesome.
I wonder what they are telling current recruits. I for one would be very hesistant to sign on to a program knowing there will be a coaching change halfway through my college career.
I know talking to recruits on twitter is about the worst thing a fan can do, but I wish I could ask what the youngest of Michigan's commits are being told about their coach (who will not be Red for part or all of their time here). IIRC, our youngest commit(s) are '97 or '98 born players. Surely they must know something about who their coach will be...though I can't imagine trusting a 16 yr old with "Your next coach will be Mike Babcock. Please do not tell anyone for 3-4 years"
Red is not planning on coaching after 2015-16.
Despite that we have already built a mega class for 2016-17, that has a shot to end up being the nations #1 class with players who know they will never play for Red.
His daughter is going to be a senior...someone at the admissions office better fast track her to an acceptance. Lets give Mike some more reasons to stay around town!
The salary can't possibly compare, but I wonder if Dave Brandon could put together a donation drive to get him something that is at least in that order of magnitude. How much does Red make? Could we double that for Babcock? Would we be wiling to do that? How much less painful could we make that pay cut?
If Babcock were to succeed, it would mean an epic shift for college hockey. In between Babcock, the BTN, and the occasional game at the Big House in front of 110,000, recruiting would be a juggernaut.
I don't think Babcock would care much about salary; you don't go pro to college voluntarily unless money isn't an issue.
I do agree that recruiting would be amazing, and that's impressive given the top talent UM tends to bring in anyway.
I agree salary would never be the #1 issue or even #2, but then there's the difference between taking a 50% pay cut and a 75% pay cut -- there is probably some level at which it is too painful to accept. I'll bet that the Rangers or Maple Leafs would be willing to throw gobs and gobs of money at this guy. Some big market team desperate for playoff wins would let him name his salary.
I have a hard time believing that this is considered at all if money or prestige means anything. It's such a crazy idea that it seems more plausible that he's just using college hockey the same way Major Junior prospects do, to gain concessions from his preferred jobs. Still, if he really wants to coach college, it's a love-of-the-game thing that has little to do with any conventional level of prestige or money.
This kinda makes sense for a guy like Babcock, if he wants a lower-pressure but still prestigious job that is still nearby. Kids will want to play for him, and with the NTDP nearby he'll have that extra connection.
I've been in the same boat as other regular hockey fans; this has been kind of an amusing fantasy, along the same lines as deciding what kind of car you'll buy when you win the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. "Yeah, I'd like Mike Babcock, and a leather-wrapped gearshift lever with heated seats."
As Gordon Berenson says, the Burns tweet and other tea leaves certainly seem to turn this into a legitimate possibility. The Burns tweet in particular is startling--if this has been believed by people in the program, it is both genuinely plausible and a driver in other decisions that have affected the team.
Notably, Mel Pearson had real doubts about taking the Michigan Tech job. It seemed to me that he had the full support, and perhaps even the recommendation, of his superiors to take it. It would have been reasonable for him to wait around, given his love for living in the area, if he was expected to take the job when Red left. But if they felt that he would not be the next coach, it helps explain why he would leave to take another, less prominent head job while it was still available.
I would caution fans from assuming that this means that Babcock will automatically be a smash hit in college, should he come here. He may not want to invest many years at the job--he could easily be gone in four. The different level of hockey also requires a different touch in player development and gameplanning that might not suit his strengths.
That said, this seems like it would be a slam dunk. If he has any personal charm at all, recruiting should be fine. And I'll speculate that he knows how to develop players. And a guy who knows how to deal with Gold Medal pressure in Canada and Stanley Cup pressure in the NHL probably won't fold under the pressure of 2000 people at a neutral site in an early-round NCAA tournament game.
Its been a while, but he was a pretty damn good college coach in Canada at a couple diffent places, and recruiting for the McGill squad is way harder than recruting for Michigan (like recruting basketball for Harvard).
Getting a Stanley Cup champion, two-time President's Trophy winner, two-time gold medalist to give that all up to coach in a college system that >2/3 of NHL players skip would be so unprecedented that I can't believe it's a real possiblity.
Assuming this won't be happeneing, what about that guy at Union? They had sucked since the begining of time when he got there (like never-won-an-ECAC-playoff-series-in-history level sucked) and now they are National Champs. All with really serious resource restrictions.
The Union guy is only finishing his 3rd full year there (very well, obvs)- the previous guys built up the program from cellar dweller to respectible top 20 team, then left for providence after getting UNion to the NCAA tourney for the 1st time ever (IIRC).
the current guy took over from there and continued that trajectory to the top, of course.