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:
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.