Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland talked to Mike Babcock on Tuesday about re-signing the coach. However, a deal is not close to being reached, according to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan.
Putting more strain on the situation, Babcock has said he will not negotiate during the season, which means he will have to re-sign before Oct. 9, or the talks will have to wait until June 30 when Babcock’s contract expires.
Babcock’s lack of urgency is making people believe he is possibly looking forward to testing the free agent market when his contract expires. He certainly could get a lot more money from a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will no doubt pay him whatever he wants.
However, the Red Wings want to keep Babcock, and money is not expected to be an issue when it comes to re-signing him. Babcock currently makes $2 million per season.
Following Scotty Bowman?
According to Khan, former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman worked mostly on one-year deals when he coached in Detroit from 1993-94 to 2001-02. Babcock hasn’t said if he will follow in Bowman’s footsteps. He told Khan:
I knew Scotty was on one-year deals lots in Detroit and it worked for him. I haven’t thought much about that. I think when you get to a certain stage, you’re pretty comfortable; it doesn’t matter, you’re just going to coach the team anyway.
This seems to be a way bigger deal for (media) than it is for me. It’ll be good when the season starts and then I won’t have to talk about it anymore.
Babcock certainly isn’t making a big deal out of the situation, but his lack of urgency is a bit unsettling. If he wants to come back to Detroit, like he has said he would, then why are the contract talks ongoing? If I’m in his position, I know I would rather get a deal done and out of the way and not have to worry about it all season.
Babcock, however, doesn’t see things the way I do. He told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun in early September:
I like Detroit. I have no concern at all with my situation. We’ll find a way to get a deal worked out. But it’s not like I’m in any rush. If it happens, it happens, if not, we’ll get it done at the end of the year.
Babcock is saying all of the things that lead me to believe he wants to remain in Detroit, but his actions are not following what he is saying. However, the Red Wings have dragged contract negotiations up until the final hour, even as recently as this offseason.
— theScore (@theScore) September 30, 2014
Danny DeKeyser was the final restricted free agent to be signed this offseason. After numerous reports of the two sides not being close on a deal and DeKeyser possibly holding out if he wasn’t signed before training camp, the defenseman inked an extension mere days before training camp started.
Maybe Babcock’s deal will follow a similar path. Maybe he’s already made up his mind that he wants to stay, but he’s just making sure the money and the terms are to his liking.
In the end, I think Babcock stays with the Red Wings. The organization has treated him well, and he appears to want to stay. Money will not be an issue when it comes to re-signing Babcock. Any dollar amount another team offers is something Detroit could easily match.
The Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders at this moment, but a few years down the road once the prospects start gaining experience, they should be in the discussion of winning another Cup. Plus with a new arena scheduled to be ready for the 2017-18 season, Detroit will once again be a prime destination for free agents.
Babcock’s decision comes down to if he thinks he has a better chance of winning somewhere else. I think he has a better situation in Detroit than Toronto, but there are a number of teams that could offer Babcock a better chance of winning right now.
Tom Mitsos is a writer from Michigan who covers the Red Wings and the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for The Hockey Writers.