Is Mike Babcock Making a Return to the NHL?

Is Mike Babcock Making a Return to the NHL?

Mike Babcock may be back coaching in the NHL next season.

According to Sportsnet NHL analyst Elliotte Friedman, there is a “very high possibility” that Babcock could be the next head coach for the Washington Capitals, leading Alexander Ovechkin and company.

Babcock has not coached in the NHL since being relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs in November 2019. He coached in Toronto for four and a half seasons after coaching in Detroit for 10 seasons, leading the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and playoff appearances in all ten seasons as Detroit’s bench boss. He also coached the Anaheim Ducks for two seasons, leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, and has coached Team Canada to multiple gold medals on the international stage.

Babcock with the Stanley Cup as Detroit Red Wings head coach in 2008. | Matthew Coyte / USports

Despite his very impressive resume, however, Babcock failed to get the Maple Leafs past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs during his tenure in Toronto.

On Saturday night’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada, Friedman stated that Babcock had been interviewed for the job by the Capitals organization, and that he was a “legitimate candidate for the position.”

Since his firing, multiple ex-players of Babcock’s have spoken out about Babcock’s hard-nosed coaching and questionable leadership, with the quote that sticks out the most coming from former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen.

“He’s a horrible person, the worst I have ever met,” stated Franzen in a December 2019 interview. “He’s a bully who was constantly attacking people, he would lay into people without any reason at all. I definitely hated playing for him.”

Friedman also stated that jobless NHL coaches Gerard Gallant and Peter Laviolette, who last coached the Vegas Golden Knights and Nashville Predators, respectively, have also been interviewed for the job. Gallant and Laviolette were both fired from these positions in January of 2020.

From L to R: Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette. | Ethan Miller / Los Angeles Times | Dave Reginek / NHL

After previously coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers, Gallant was named the first head coach in the expansion Vegas Golden Knights’ history, and subsequently led the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season in 2017-18.

Laviolette is only the fourth coach in NHL history to coach three separate teams to the Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Cup as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, and leading the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators to Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 2010 and 2017, respectively.

All three of these men are listed as prime candidates to take over the Capitals head coaching position, which recently became vacant after the firing of Todd Reirden following the Capitals’ first round playoff exit to the New York Islanders. Coincidentally, the Capitals lost to their former coach Barry Trotz (current head coach of the Islanders), who led the franchise to their first ever Stanley Cup Championship in 2018.

It will definitely be interesting to see which one of these experienced coaches, if any, will become the new Capitals coach. Keep it locked to GCSN, as we will be here to update you as soon as news breaks!

Featured photo courtesy of Hannah Foslien / AP Photo

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