To be a coach in the NHL is something. To be a great coach in the NHL is something more. To be one of the greatest coaches in the history of the Detroit Red Wings, one of the greatest franchises in the leagues — well, now, you’ve moved into Mike Babcock territory.
Mike Babcock, coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs currently and coach of the Red Wings from 2005 to 2015, recorded 458 wins in 10 years with Detroit. It’s the most wins of any Red Wings coach — more than Jack Adams (who coached the Red Wings for 20 years) and more than Scotty Bowman (who coached them for nine).
Mike Babcock NHL Coaching Highlights
From Manitouwadge, Ontario, Babcock was player-coach in the UK for the Whitley Warriors in 1987. From there, he went on to excel in various coaching jobs in the WHL, CIS and AHL — and eventually became head coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2002. In his first season there, he led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Final, where they fell to the New Jersey Devils 4-3.
In 2005, he was named head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. In each of his 10 years in Detroit, the Red Wings were a force to be reckoned with:
- 2005-06: First in the Central Division
- 2006-07: First in the Central Division
- 2007-08: First in the Central Division, Stanley Cup champion
- 2008-09: First in the Central Division, Stanley Cup runner-up
- 2009-10: Second in the Central Division
- 2010-11: First in the Central Division
- 2011-12: Third in Central Division, made Stanley Cup Playoffs
- 2012-13: Third in Central Division, made Stanley Cup Playoffs
- 2013-14: Fourth in Atlantic Division, made Stanley Cup Playoffs
- 2014-15: Third in Atlantic Division, made Stanley Cup Playoffs
Moving to Toronto in 2015, Babcock has already made great strides in turning the struggling Maple Leafs into a solid contender. In his first season, the team had 69 points; in his second season, 95 points; and in his third, 105 points.
Through 15 seasons as a head coach, Babcock has a 645-380-19-152 record in regular-season pla and an 87-70 record in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Mike Babcock — International Hockey
In addition to a stellar record in the NHL, Babcock has a spectacular record in international play:
- In 1997, he coached Canada in the World Junior Championships, winning the gold medal (the team’s fifth in a row) with a victory over the U.S. in the championship game.
- In 2004, he coached the Canadian national team to a gold medal in the IIHF World Championship, beating Sweden 5-3 in the final.
- In 2010, he coached Canada’s men’s hockey team in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Canada won gold, with a memorable overtime victory over a strong U.S. team.
With a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and World Championship to his credit, Babcock has the distinction of being the only member of the “Triple Gold Club.”
Mike Babcock’s Coaching Style
Babcock prefers winning through skill rather than brute force. Starting out as a physical education teacher, he’s always had an interest in cultivating talent — something he has done successfully at the NHL level season after season in developing players. He is also known as a systematic thinker and for having a strong work ethic: His players always take the ice prepared to play within a system designed around their particular strengths.
He is also not one to rest on his coaching laurels. Babcock is a coach always on the lookout for new ideas, strategies and tactics. His willingness to try new approaches and innovate may be what has kept him one step ahead of the pack year after year.
(Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons)