What experts are saying about Mike Babcock
Ken Campbell, The Hockey News: "The Babcock hiring works only if one thing has been made crystal clear to him. And that is that for at least the first three years of his eight-year deal, he can probably forget about making the playoffs, that coaching this team will be painful at times and will require all the patience he can muster, and that his legacy as a coaching magician might get tarnished a little. Because there will be losing. Don't bother going into the office of the GM — whoever the heck that turns out to be — demanding that he get you players who can help you win now. You don't have Datsyuk and Zetterberg and the host of promising young players the Red Wings had and you're not in Detroit anymore.
"As long as Babcock is willing to agree to that proviso, perhaps things will work out. But anyone who thinks hiring a coach will be the panacea for this organization is making a big mistake. As pointed out previously, Babcock won one Stanley Cup in 10 years with an organization that is far superior to the Maple Leafs. He has only eight years to do it in Toronto."
Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Yahoo! Sports: "Staying with the Detroit Red Wings would have been safe. Babcock spent a decade in Detroit, won a Stanley Cup and went to Game 7 in another Cup final. His family liked it there. He had a good relationship with general manager Ken Holland. He had a roster with good players with more prospects on the way. The Wings made him a fair offer a long time ago. They were willing to make him the highest-paid coach in the NHL. He could have accepted it and avoided a year of speculation about his future, but he didn't.
"Let's be real: money mattered. The Wings were willing to pay only to a point on principle, because no man is bigger than their program. They knew they had won before Babcock, and they figured they could win after Babcock, especially with Jeff Blashill — AHL champion, AHL coach of the year — ready and waiting. Babcock knew he could make more elsewhere."
Eric Duhatschek, Toronto Globe and Mail: "Coaching the Leafs will require an inordinate amount of patience, until the player talent matches the organization's Stanley Cup ambitions. This then will be the ultimate test for Babcock who, 13 years and 950 games into his NHL coaching career, has never quite faced the challenge that Toronto will pose. There are not many coaches more competitive than Babcock. How he handles the challenge of those early dark days will be a sight to behold."
Chris Johnston, SportsNet: "There is no bigger professional challenge he could embark on at this stage of a career that has already included a Stanley Cup and two Olympics gold medals. Not only does his massive contract reset the bar for other NHL coaches — 'We're all ready to renegotiate,' one of his contemporaries joked on Wednesday afternoon — it should take care of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
"In exchange for the unprecedented level of security, he's jumping headfirst into shark-infested waters. Babcock is the sort of guy who likes to meet a challenge head on and he's now standing at the foot of a rather large mountain.
"That's probably why his decision generated so much buzz. Already guaranteed to go down as one of the winningest coaches in NHL history, why risk your reputation and subject yourself to the circus?"
Katie Strang, ESPN.com: "Babcock's decision comes as a slight surprise, given that he indicated last week that he hated losing and wanted to be part of a team that had an opportunity to win immediately.
"The Maple Leafs have an overpriced and aging roster, and questions at goaltending. The team unraveled last season. After holding a 19-9-3 record in mid-December, Toronto closed the season going 11-35-8 to finish 15th in the 16-team Eastern Conference standings."
Jerry Sullivan, Buffalo News: "Some felt Babcock would be committing career suicide by going to Toronto, where he would join the long list of coaches and executives who couldn't turn the Laffs around and wound up getting skewered by the media.
"The Sabres weren't ready to win, either, but prevailing wisdom said they were relatively close, and that Babcock could preside over a rapid improvement and look good bringing along young talent. That and (Sabres owner Terry) Pegula's deep pockets seemed like an irresistible lure for the 52-year-old Babcock."
Michael Traikos, National Post of Canada: "If anyone can turn around the roster, it might be Babcock. A native of Saskatoon, Sask., he is regarded as the best coach in the NHL today. He led Canada to back-to-back gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics and reached the Cup final three times, winning in 2006 and became the second-fastest coach to reach 500 wins.
"Babcock has an impressive track record of working with star players as well as developing prospects. Maybe he is able to coax a complete game out of (Phil) Kessel. If not, young players like Morgan Rielly, William Nylander and whoever the Leafs select with the fourth-overall pick in this year's draft should be in good hands.
"Of course, from Brian Burke and Ron Wilson to Carlyle and Francois Allaire, many respected hockey men have come to Toronto hoping to be the answer. And each time, they left with only a black mark on their resumes to show for it."
John Vogl, Buffalo News: "There's no denying Babcock was Buffalo's first choice. The Sabres put together a comprehensive package for the longtime Detroit coach, giving him a tour of their arena and HarborCenter on May 10. The Sabres also tried to sell Babcock on a bright future. After finishing last in back-to-back seasons, Buffalo is expected to be on the upswing with promising prospects.
"Toronto, meanwhile, is just starting its rebuild. The Leafs have a solid defense corps, but they are sorely lacking in forwards, especially at center with Tyler Bozak as the No. 1 middle man. They remain hockey's richest team and one of the NHL's marquee franchises, an alluring combination. They could also match the Sabres' deep pockets, with the contract obliterating Babcock's previous salary of $2 million per season."
Compiled by The Detroit News