Newspaper article The Canadian Press

With Red Wings out of Playoffs, Babcock Sweepstakes Could Heat Up

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

With Red Wings out of Playoffs, Babcock Sweepstakes Could Heat Up

Article excerpt

Babcock sweepstakes will be hot race

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General managers, prepare your pitches and owners, open your chequebooks. The Mike Babcock sweepstakes could begin any time now.

The Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs with a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 on Wednesday night. Immediately the attention turned to Babcock, the hottest coaching free agent on the market.

In his post-game news conference, Babcock declined to directly address his future but left clues he may not be long for Detroit. Babcock wondered aloud who's going to replace 37-year-old star Pavel Datsyuk down the road, and that same question can be asked for 35-year-old captain Henrik Zetterberg and 34-year-old defenceman Niklas Kronwall.

"Any way you look at it, we're a team that's changed a ton of players, we're a team that's added a lot of youth to our lineup, and right now on the outside they don't pick us as a Stanley Cup contender," Babcock told reporters at Amalie Arena.

Babcock won a Cup with Detroit in 2008 and reached the final in 2009. Before that he got to within one victory of the title in 2003 with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Throw in two Olympic gold medals with Canada and even though he has never won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, Babcock is at the top of just about every list for teams with vacancies. Babcock is considered the best in the business.

"Something I've recognized is just his Xs and Os, he understands the game very well," Detroit defenceman Brendan Smith said Monday at Joe Louis Arena. "He's got great practices, he gets you prepared in that sense. For the most part he can analyze the game very well."

Currently four other teams are without head coaches: the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks. Other jobs could also come open like if Dave Tippett and the Arizona Coyotes part ways, the Boston Bruins fire Claude Julien or the Edmonton Oilers decide to move on from interim coach Todd Nelson. …

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