Mike Babcock, the most coveted free agent coach this NHL off-season, had decided to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, after months of rumors about whether he would remain as coach of the Red Wings after his contract expired at the end of the season. After they were all but ruled out as a contender on Tuesday, the Darren Dreger (among many other sources) is now reporting that the Leafs agreed to an 8 year, $50 million deal ($6.25 million per)
Sources say Mike Babcock has been hired by the Maple Leafs. Mammoth 8 yr contract believed to be around $50 million.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 20, 2015
The Leafs will have to give Detroit a third round pick this year, in compensation for being allowed to talk with him while still under contract.
Babcock has been considered one of the NHL’s best coaches for years, starting his career with a bang by carrying the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003 as a rookie head coach.
After two seasons in Anaheim, Babcock joined Detroit, where he found even greater success, leading the club to consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances, winning the Cup in 2008, and guiding the team into the playoffs for ten straight years.
So far in his NHL coaching career Babcock has compiled an impressive .627 winning percentage in the regular season and a .545 winning percentage in the playoffs. In his 12-year NHL coaching career, Babcock has only missed the playoffs once.
Babcock has also found great success internationally, leading Canada to back-to-back Gold medals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Babcock is the only coach in the famed IIHF Triple Gold Club, with a world championship victory in 2004 in addition to his Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold medals.
Babcock-coached teams tend to prioritize skill and puck possession over toughness, as evidenced by the fact that his teams are consistently near the bottom of the league in penalty minutes every season. Babcock is known by the public to be gruff and have an intense look that can be off-putting, though players have often praised him for his no-nonsense attitude and the importance he places on accountability within the locker room.