Billion-dollar franchise Toronto Maple Leafs have roped in former Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock for an 8-year deal worth $50 million. Babcock is now not only the highest-paid coach in NHL, his payslip is more than double of the second highest-paid, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville. Babcock’s annual CTC will be worth $6.25 million at Toronto, as Quenneville draws $3 million.
Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland tried to persuade Babcock to extend his career at Detroit, knocking at the high-profile coach’s door at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
“I’ve been in this sport a long time,” Holland said Wednesday. “One of the things that I said to Mike, anytime you’re an unrestricted free agent, in the prime of your career, there’s going to be opportunities that probably will stagger you. I use the word stagger because I’m aware of what the industry pays, but in order sometimes to get people, you’ve got to go above and beyond the industry standards to get what you want.
“Superstar players don’t make that amount of money.”
Red Wings offered a $4 million annual contract to retain Babcock. But he was destined to leave for Toronto after a 10-year stint with the Wings as an astronomical pay-package awaited him in the neighboring land. 52-year-old Babcock has one Stanley Cup as Wings coach during his dream phase 2007-09 but failed to cross the 2nd round barrier since then. That was one of the reasons the Wings didn’t compete with the Leafs’ record offer.
“I’d like to thank Mike for 10 fabulous years,” Holland said. “We’ve made the playoffs for 10 consecutive years. Went to the final four three straight years in ’07, ’08 and ’09 and won a Cup in ’08. The last few years, I thought he did a fabulous job in putting some younger players in our organization and developing them.
“Mike decided to go somewhere else. I’m not going to fold the franchise.”