Red Wings’ Win-Win Situation Regarding Mike Babcock

By now, NHL fans everywhere should be well aware of the freedom Mike Babcock has to browse his options for the 2015-16 season.

There’s not much doubt that Red Wings fans and GM Ken Holland ultimately want Babcock back on the Detroit bench, but if Babcock decides a new team is a better fit, optimism won’t leave with him.

“Mike wants an opportunity to explore the marketplace and given what he has done for us the last 10 years, given that his contract expires at the end of June, and given that I want him back in Detroit, if this is the best situation for Mike, in order to find that out we’re giving him the permission to talk to teams,” Holland said per MLive.

With a 458-223-105 record after ten seasons, a Stanley Cup and coaching players including Steve Yzerman, Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Osgood, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom, there isn’t much more for Babcock to conquer in Hockeytown; especially with an aging core.

The Win-Win

If Babcock returns to Detroit then the team and management can skip growing pains of a new system, a new coach(es) and having to face a team with Mike Babcock behind its bench.

If he leaves, then there will be a change in Hockeytown and adaptation will be imminent. While Holland and the Wings will be compensated with a third-round pick from Babcock’s new destination, it’s a small piece relative to what Babs meant to and did for the Winged Wheel.

Babcock has done a lot for Detroit, but a new head coach in Hockeytown may be what the team needs, especially considering Holland’s options; which are believed to

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

include Todd McClellan and Jeff Blashill, whom both of which already have roots in Detroit.

McClellan, who spent three seasons (2005-2008) with the Wings as Babcock’s assistant coach, mutually parted ways with the San Jose Sharks following the 2014-15 season when San Jose missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

McClellan’s Sharks won the President’s Trophy following his first season in San Jose and he became the franchise’s winningest coach with a 311-163-66 record.


Candidate or replacement?

Blashill, 41, was hired by Detroit in 2011 and spent the 2011-12 season as Babcock’s assistant coach before taking over as head coach of Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Currently in his third year as the head coach of the Griffins, Blashill has led the team to a 134–70–8–14 record and was awarded the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award for the AHL’s coach of the year following the 2013-14 season.

In 2012-13, Blashill led the Griffins to its first-ever Calder Cup as AHL champions. During the first round of the 2014-15 Calder Cup playoffs, the Griffins bested the Toronto Marlies by winning three games in a row after being down 2-0 in the series.

Track record aside, Blashill knows the organization and has coached Detroit players including Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening, Joakim Andersson, Petr Mrazek and Danny Dekeyser to one championship already.

He is almost certainly the front-runner for the Wings head coaching job if Babcock and his family move on.

Is Blashill Detroit’s coach in 2015-16? Is McClellan? Or does Mike Babcock return?