Today in Hockey History: Detroit Red Wings Hire Mike Babcock

Mike Babcock
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During the NHL’s hiatus, we at Last Word on Hockey are going to look back at each date’s historical significance to the game. We’ll remember the moments that shaped the sport of hockey that happened on this day. Here’s our look at this date in hockey history for July 15th, featuring Mike Babcock.

Today in Hockey History

Mike Babcock Becomes Red Wings Coach

2005: The Detroit Red Wings hire Babcock to replace Dave Lewis as the team’s head coach. Lewis does well in the regular season, but the Wings struggle in the post-season. Despite wining the Central division in both Lewis’ seasons as Wings coach, they are eliminated in the first round both years.

NHL free agent frenzy

Babcock helps the Red Wings win the President’s Trophy in two of his first three seasons. Detroit wins its first Stanley Cup since 1997 in the 2008 post-season. He wins 458 games in 10 seasons in Detroit and the Red Wings qualify for the playoffs in all 10.

Other Notable Events

1981: The Vancouver Canucks acquire the rights to and sign Czech international stars Ivan Hlinka and Jiri Bubla. The Winnipeg Jets get Brent Ashton and a 1982 fourth-round pick as compensation. Ashton is then flipped to the Colorado Rockies for Lucien DeBlois.

1994: Mike Keenan stuns the hockey world by resigning as head coach and general manager of the New York Rangers 31 days after winning the Stanley Cup. With four years still on his contract, Keenan cites ‘breach of contractual obligations’ as his reason for stepping down.

1997: Colorado Avalanche head coach Marc Crawford is named the bench boss for Team Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics. NHLers can play at the Olympics for the first time in ’98. Canada suffers a shootout in the semi finals to eventual gold medal winner the Czech Republic at Nagano, Japan.

1998: The Toronto Maple Leafs sign goaltender Curtis Joseph to a deal. He wins 35 games in his first season 36 in his second campaign. Toronto reaches the 100-point mark for the first time in franchise history thanks to Joseph. He wins 133 games in his four seasons with the Leafs before signing with the Red Wings. Joseph would return for one more stint with Toronto in 2008-09, but it was less memorable.

2009: The NHL announces the Bridgestone Winter Classic for January 1, 2010. Bettman reveals the game will be between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park. The commissioner holds the press conference on top of the dugout at the ballpark.

Happy Birthday to You

1932: Ed Litzenberger

1951: Chuck Arnason; Rick Kehoe

1956: Barry Melrose

1963: Steve Thomas

1980: Jonathan Cheechoo

1986: Tyler Kennedy

1990: Zach Bogosian

1997: Anthony Cirelli