According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Mike Babcock will return to the NHL for the first time since November 19, 2019 to be the Columbus Blue Jackets’ head coach.
Babcock was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs after a 9-10-4 start to the 2019-20 season and three consecutive seasons of losing in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a talented but inexperienced core. Babcock guided the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2008 and came just one win shy of a repeat the next season. He has gone 700-418-19 (.608 points percentage) in 1,301 career regular-season games behind the bench with Toronto and Detroit and has taken his teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 12 of his 15 seasons as a coach. He is 90-74 (.549 points percentage) during the tournament in his career.
Speculation around the Memorial Cup is Mike Babcock will return to the NHL as @BlueJacketsNHL new coach and the delay in announcing coincides with his existing contract with the Maple Leafs expiring the end of this month. https://t.co/OUlxBRS8bq
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 3, 2023
Babcock also led the Canadian men’s Olympic team to two consecutive gold medal wins in 2010 and 2014 as head coach. Though there were complaints about how he treated his players in Toronto, his track record combined with the fact that he is a free agent makes him a possibility. He has been nominated twice for the Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL’s head coach of the year.
Babcock is the first and only coach to date to have won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, a World Cup, a World Championship, and a World Junior Championship.
Former Detroit forward Johan Franzen called Babcock “the worst person I’ve ever met” in an interview with the Detroit Free Press published two weeks after Toronto fired him. There was also a story where Babcock asked then 23-year-old Toronto right-wing Mitch Marner to rank his teammates from least hard-working to most and then shared it with the team.
Columbus parted ways with Brad Larsen after finishing the 2022-23 season 25-48-9, tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the second-worst record in the NHL. Only the San Jose Sharks (22) and Anaheim Ducks (23) had fewer wins than Columbus while just Chicago (49) had more regulation losses. Though, the team finished with 563 man-games lost to injury.
Further to @DarrenDreger, the Leafs still owe Mike Babcock through June 30. Plan is for the Blue Jackets to finalize his hiring after that. Sounds like Babcock has been Jarmo Kekalainen’s choice for a bit.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 3, 2023
In their first campaign with left-wing Johnny Gaudreau, Columbus finished with averages of 2.6 goals-per-game (30th) and 4.01 goals-against per game (31st). They also tallied a 18.3% power-play efficiency (26th), 75.1% penalty-killing rate (25th), and a .901 team save percentage (30th).
Anaheim, the New York Rangers, and Calgary Flames are now the only teams currently without a head coach for next season after Columbus hired Babcock, the Washington Capitals hired Spencer Carbery, and the Nashville Predators hired Andrew Brunette.
By Harrison Brown