Mike Babcock reportedly drawing interest from Blue Jackets, Rangers
Babcock hasn't been behind an NHL bench since being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs partway through the 2019-20 season.
With only four teams remaining in these playoffs, the vast majority of NHL franchises have started to shift their focus to the offseason. Head coaching decisions are always a hot topic at this time of year, and one surprising name has been linked to at least two teams with vacancies behind their benches: Mike Babcock.
Babcock hasn't coached at the NHL level since being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs partway through the 2019-20 season, but it sounds like he's back under consideration from multiple front offices.
USA Today reporter Vince Mercogliano tweeted last week that sources told him the New York Rangers had been "making calls and doing homework" on Babcock, while The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported on Tuesday that the Columbus Blue Jackets have talked to him about their job opening.
Babcock spent one season at the helm of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies following his departure from the Maple Leafs, but announced his plan to retire during an appearance on a Saskatchewan radio show last August. He said he and his wife had long discussed retiring at the age of 60, which is how old Babcock is now.
"If things change, I guess they change, but surely that's not our plan," Babcock said at the time. "Believe me, we've talked to lots of people about opportunities and enjoyed those conversations. In the end, we feel this is best for us and best for our family, so that's what we're doing."
The results on Babcock's resume are impressive but dated. He has 17 seasons of NHL experience under his belt, splitting 1,301 games between the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs. Babcock owns a 700-418-19-164 career record and won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008. On the international stage, he has coached Canada to two Olympic gold medals, World Juniors gold, World Championship gold and a World Cup of Hockey title.
Despite the accolades, Babcock has received his fair share of criticism, most notably from former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen, who called his old coach "the worst person I’ve ever met.” Franzen's ex-teammate and Hall of Famer Chris Chelios alleged Babcock "verbally assaulted" Franzen during a game and gave him a "nervous breakdown."
Among other incidents, Babcock also notably took heat for asking Leafs star Mitch Marner to rank his teammates by how hard they worked, then shared the list with the rest of the team.