Buffalo Sabres: What Will it Take to Land Mike Babcock?


Buffalo Sabres: What Will it Take to Land Mike Babcock?

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You better believe the Buffalo Sabres have circled June 30 on their calender. This represents the date Mike Babcock‘s contract with the Detroit Red Wings is set to expire.

For his part, Babcock has expressed a desire to at least test the open market. Interestingly, Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland was not allowing the Sabres (and other interested teams) to talk to the highly touted head coach.

As Bucky Gleason of The Buffalo News confirmed, Holland was trying to buy time in his attempts to persuade Babcock to remain in Detroit. The GM told the Detroit Free Press he recently had a positive conversation with his coach, and was hoping to receive an answer before the end of May.

However, Holland has finally given Babcock permission to talk to other teams. As reported by tsn.ca, this window will remain open until the end of May.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the in-demand coach is definitely leaving Detroit, just that he wants to see what opportunities are out there. No doubt he will receive a huge amount of interest from the Sabres, as well as the like of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers.

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Holland said, at least publicly to the media, there will be no hard feelings if Babcock does decide to leave: “If Mike goes elsewhere, I’ll shake his hand and thank him for 10 fabulous years.”

In many respects, allowing his head coach to talk to other teams is a smart move by Holland. When this current window closes, it will give the GM another month to combat any offers and entice Babcock to stay, before his contract expires.

Babcock will almost certainly sign a new deal that will set a new standard for NHL head coaches. The current record is held by Joel Quenneville, who has earned $2.75 million this season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Along those lines, money should be no object to Terry Pegula. The Sabres owner certainly has more than enough to spare.

Nov 13, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

As Gleason points out, Pegula previously referenced the Red Wings organisation as the model franchise in the NHL, one that they should look to emulate. This has to include having the best head coach available to help restore credibility, as you continue to rebuild the team.

If anything, Pegula and the Sabres will likely have to offer more than the $4 million per year Babcock is apparently looking for, if they are to have any hope of clinching his signature. Again, this should be no issue.

If there is any doubt as to if the Sabres should be pulling out all the stops to sign Babcock, just consider his resume. In 10 years with the Red Wings, he has led them to the playoffs every season and made two Stanley Cup final appearances, winning it all in 2008.

The Manitouwadge, Ontario native previously led the Anaheim Ducks to the final in 2003. He also coached Canada to gold medals at the 1997 World Junior Hockey Championship, the 2004 World Men’s Championship, together with two golds at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Of course, it’s not just about money. The personnel helps as well, with Babcock allegedly intrigued by the chance to coach a young superstar.

As such, losing out on Connor McDavid was seen as a big blow to the Sabres, on many levels. It may well come down to convincing the 52-year old that Jack Eichel is an enticing enough option for him, to believe Buffalo is the place to be.

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