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Mike Babcock

Mike Babcock
Mike Babcock
Mike Babcock during a press conference in 2013.
Born (1963-04-29) April 29, 1963
Manitouwadge, Ontario
Current position Head coach
Current team Toronto Maple Leafs
Previous team(s) Anaheim Ducks
Detroit Red Wings
Stanley Cup wins 2008
Years as a coach 1991–present
Years as an NHL coach 2002–present
Years with current team 2015–present

Michael "Mike" Babcock, Jr. (born April 29, 1963) is a Canadian professional ice hockey head coach, currently with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL). Babcock was born in Manitouwadge, Ontario and grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.[1][2][3] As of July 2016, he is the only coach to gain entry to the Triple Gold Club, guiding his Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2008, as well as leading Team Canada to gold at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in 2004, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Babcock is the only coach to win five distinct national or international titles, guiding Canada to gold at the IIHF World Junior Championships in 1997 and the University of Lethbridge to the CIS University Cup in 1994.


  • Education and playing career 1
    • Player-coach 1.1
  • Coaching career 2
    • Red Deer College 2.1
    • Moose Jaw -- WHL 2.2
    • University of Lethbridge -- CIS 2.3
    • Spokane -- WHL 2.4
    • Cincinnati -- AHL 2.5
  • NHL 3
  • Coaching style 4
  • Notable coaching statistics 5
  • International coaching 6
  • Personal 7
  • Coaching career statistics 8
    • Major Junior 8.1
    • Minor Pro 8.2
    • National Hockey League 8.3
  • References 9

Education and playing career

Babcock played for the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL in 1980–81, and spent a season with the Kelowna Wings in 1982–83. In between, he played a year under Dave King at the University of Saskatchewan, and transferred to McGill in 1983 under coach Ken Tyler. In September 1985, Babcock also had a brief try-out with the Vancouver Canucks.

Babcock graduated from McGill in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in physical education, and also did some post-graduate work in sports psychology. At McGill, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. In 146 career games with the Redmen, he tallied 22 goals and 85 assists for a total of 107 points and 301 penalty minutes, graduating as the second-highest scoring defenceman in McGill history. Playing for McGill from 1983-84 to 1986-87, he was a two-time all-star rearguard, served as captain, and also won the Bobby Bell trophy as team MVP.


He moved to the United Kingdom in 1987 as a player-coach for Whitley Warriors, who missed out on the league title by two points. In 49 games, he contributed 45 goals and 127 assists, accumulating 123 penalty minutes.

Coaching career

Babcock is one of four McGill University players to coach an NHL team (Edmonton Oilers; and Guy Boucher with the Tampa Bay Lightning). In 2008, Babcock became the second McGill hockey player to coach a Stanley Cup winner, the other being Lester Patrick.

Babcock has had a distinguished coaching career, and entered the 2011–12 season with a lifetime 798–540–148 regular season coaching record in 18 seasons overall, including a 373–188–95 NHL mark in eight seasons (two with Anaheim and six with Detroit). He also guided Team Canada to gold medals at the 1997 world junior championships in Geneva, the 2004 IIHF world hockey championships in Prague, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In addition, he guided the University of Lethbridge to a CIS national title in 1994.

Detroit marked the seventh coaching stint for the nomadic Babcock, a native of Saskatoon, SK who has lived in six Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan, Quebec, Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and his current residence Toronto) and four American states (Washington, Ohio, California, and Michigan).

Red Deer College

In 1988, Babcock was appointed head coach at Red Deer College in Alberta. He spent three seasons at the school, winning the provincial collegiate championship and earning coach-of-the-year honours in 1989.

Moose Jaw -- WHL

Babcock moved to the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 1991, where he guided the Moose Jaw Warriors for a two-year term.

University of Lethbridge -- CIS

He then served one season as coach of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, earning Canada West coach-of-the-year honours in 1993–94 after guiding Lethbridge to their first-ever appearance in post-season play and an entirely unexpected Canadian university national title with a 34–11–3 over-all mark.

Spokane -- WHL

In 1994, he was appointed coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, where he posted a regular-season record of 224–172–29 over six seasons for a .564 winning percentage. He was named twice as the West Division coach of the year (1995–1996 and 1999–2000).

Cincinnati -- AHL

From 2000–01 to 2001–02, Babcock guided the American Hockey League's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks to a 74–59–20–7 record, including a franchise-high 41 wins and 95 points. The team qualified for the playoffs both years.


Mike Babcock coaching a playoff game

Babcock was named head coach of the NHL's Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on May 22, 2002, and through two seasons, guided them to a combined 69–62–19 regular season record (including 14 overtime losses). In the Stanley Cup playoffs with the Ducks, he posted a 15–6 record, leading the Mighty Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost in seven games to the New Jersey Devils.

Following the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Babcock declined an offer to remain with the Ducks, and on July 15, 2005, was named head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. In his first three seasons, Babcock led the Red Wings to a combined 162–56–28 regular season record and a 28–18 playoff record. He and the Red Wings were eliminated by his former club, the Anaheim Ducks, in the Western Conference Finals of the 2007 playoffs.

In the 2007–08 season, Babcock earned his 200th NHL career win in Detroit's 5–2 victory over the Florida Panthers on December 15, 2007. Heading into the 2008 All-Star Game, as the top team in the NHL, Babcock was selected to coach the Western Conference in the All-Star Game. On June 4, 2008, he led the Red Wings to another Stanley Cup championship by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

Babcock was announced as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for the 2007–08 season, awarded to the coach who best contributes to his team's success, but ultimately finished third behind Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals and Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens.[4]

In June 2008, Babcock signed a three-year contract extension with the Red Wings. In the 2008–09 season, the Red Wings again made the Stanley Cup Final, but lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the loss in Game 7, Babcock became the first head coach to lose a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 with two different teams.[5]

In the 2011 playoffs, Babcock's Red Wings fell behind the San Jose Sharks three games to none in the second round, but won three-straight to force a Game 7, which the Wings lost 3–2. At this point into his coaching career, Babcock has accumulated an impressive NHL playoff record of 63–39.

In October 2010, Babcock signed a four-year extension with the Red Wings that saw him through to the end of the 2014–15 season.[6]

On April 8, 2014, Babcock earned his 414th career win as head coach of the Red Wings, surpassing Jack Adams as the winningest coach in Red Wings history.[7] Babcock was announced as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for the 2013–14 season, his second nomination, but finished second in voting behind Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche.[8] On December 6, 2014, Babcock earned his 500th career win as a head coach, becoming the second-fastest coach in NHL history to do so; only Hockey Hall of Famer and former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman reached the 500-win plateau faster.[9]

After failing to come to terms on a contract extension with the Red Wings, Babcock requested and received permission to seek employment elsewhere on May 8, 2015. The Buffalo Sabres were considered the most serious contenders for Babcock's services, with the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks also being in the mix.[10] However, on May 20, 2015, it was announced that Babcock would become the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.[11] He reportedly received an eight year deal worth $50 million ($6.25 million per season average), and will be the highest paid coach in NHL history.[12] Prior to Babcock inking the deal, Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers was the highest paid coach in the league, reportedly earning $3 million per season.[13]

Coaching style

Babcock's teams generally focus on skills and puck possession. Babcock is also one of the game's most respected coaches by way of line combinations, match-ups and overall game strategy.

As a continued tradition of building a team with skills rather than enforcement in Detroit, Babcock has taken this idea to a whole new level.[14] Since taking the helm at Detroit in 2005–06 season, Babcock's teams have consistently had the fewest penalty minutes of any NHL team.[15] From the 2005–06 to 2014–15 seasons, the Red Wings average 22% fewer penalty minutes than the League average, and 44% fewer penalty minutes than the highest League total.[16][17]

Notable coaching statistics

Accomplishment Babcock Stat League Average League High Refs
Regular season
Fewest Team Penalty Minutes (Total) [1] 7,804 PIM 9,809 PIM 11,814 PIM [2] [18]
Fewest Fighting Majors per season (Total) [3] 12.4 FM 35.3 FM 52.7 FM [4] [19]

International coaching

On June 24, 2009, Babcock was announced as the head coach of Canada's men's national ice hockey team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.[20] The team finished the round robin with a regulation win over Norway, a shootout win over Switzerland, and a loss to the United States. In the elimination rounds they defeated Germany, Russia, and then Slovakia to advance to the gold medal game where they defeated the United States 3–2 in single overtime.[21]

With the win Babcock became the first coach (and only thus far) in the International Ice Hockey Federation's Triple Gold Club.[22][23] In addition to the Olympic gold, Babcock earned a World Championship title coaching Canada in 2004 and a Stanley Cup championship coaching the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.[22][23]

To honour Babcock's entrance into the Triple Gold Club, the City of Saskatoon announced that July 17, 2010, will be known as "Mike Babcock Day."[24]

On July 22, 2013, Babcock was announced as the head coach of Canada's men's national ice hockey team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.[25] The team finished the round robin with regulation wins over Norway, and Austria, and an overtime win over Finland. In the quarterfinals they defeated Latvia, and in the semifinals they defeated the United States to advance to the gold medal game, where they defeated Sweden 3–0.[26] With the win, Babcock became only the second (Viktor Tikhonov led the Soviet team in '84, '88) head coach to lead one country to a gold medal victory in consecutive Olympic appearances.[27]


Mike and his wife, Maureen have three children: Alexandra, Michael III, and Taylor.[28][29][30] Although he was born in Manitouwadge, Ontario, he grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He spent the majority of his childhood moving around between Northern Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, before his family settled in Saskatoon, which he considers his hometown, in 1975. Babcock attended both St. James Elementary School (since closed) and Holy Cross High School on Saskatoon's east side. Babcock is one of the many notable graduates on Holy Cross High School's "Wall of Honour."

Coaching career statistics

Major Junior

Year Team League W L OT/T Finish Playoffs
1991–92 Moose Jaw Warriors WHL 33 36 3 6th East Lost East Division quarter-final
1992–93 Moose Jaw Warriors WHL 27 42 3 8th East Out of playoffs
1994–95 Spokane Chiefs WHL 32 36 4 5th West Lost West Division semi-final
1995–96 Spokane Chiefs WHL 50 18 4 1st West Lost WHL finals
1996–97 Spokane Chiefs WHL 35 33 4 3rd West Lost West Division semi-final
1997–98 Spokane Chiefs WHL 45 23 4 2nd West Lost West Division final
1998–99 Spokane Chiefs WHL 19 44 9 7th West Out of playoffs
1999–2000 Spokane Chiefs WHL 47 19 6 1st West Lost WHL finals

Minor Pro

Year Team League W L OT/T Finish Playoffs
2000–01 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 41 26 13 2nd South Lost in first round
2001–02 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 33 33 14 3rd Central Lost in preliminary round

National Hockey League

Mike Babcock NHL coaching statistics[31]
Team Year Regular season Post season
Games Won Lost Tied OTL Points Finish Won Lost Win % Result
ANA 2002–03 82 40 27 9 6 95 2nd in Pacific 15 6 .714 Lost to New Jersey Devils in Stanley Cup Finals
ANA 2003–04 82 29 35 10 8 76 4th in Pacific - - - Out of playoffs
ANA Total 164 69 62 19 14 .521 15 6 .714
DET 2005–06 82 58 16 - 8 124 1st in Central 2 4 .333 Lost to Edmonton Oilers in Conference Quarterfinals
DET 2006–07 82 50 19 - 13 113 1st in Central 10 8 .556 Lost to Anaheim Ducks in Conference Finals
DET 2007–08 82 54 21 - 7 115 1st in Central 16 6 .727 Stanley Cup Champions
DET 2008–09 82 51 21 - 10 112 1st in Central 15 8 .652 Lost to Pittsburgh Penguins in Stanley Cup Finals
DET 2009–10 82 44 24 - 14 102 2nd in Central 5 7 .417 Lost to San Jose Sharks in Conference Semifinals
DET 2010–11 82 47 25 - 10 104 1st in Central 7 4 .636 Lost to San Jose Sharks in Conference Semifinals
DET 2011–12 82 48 28 - 6 102 3rd in Central 1 4 .200 Lost to Nashville Predators in Conference Quarterfinals
DET 2012–13 48 24 16 - 8 56 3rd in Central 7 7 .500 Lost to Chicago Blackhawks in Conference Semifinals
DET 2013–14 82 39 28 - 15 93 4th in Atlantic 1 4 .200 Lost to Boston Bruins in First Round
DET 2014–15 82 43 25 - 14 100 3rd in Atlantic 3 4 .300 Lost to Tampa Bay Lightning in First Round
DET Total 786 458 223 - 105 .649 67 56 .545
Total 950 527 285 19 119 .627 82 62 .569
  1. ^ 2005/06-2015/16
  2. ^ PHL
  3. ^ 2008/09-2015/16
  4. ^ ANA


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "BOUDREAU WINS JACK ADAMS AWARD AS TOP COACH". June 12, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  5. ^ Podell, Ira (June 13, 2009). "Penguin power: Pittsburgh motors away from Detroit with the silver Cup". Salt Lake Deseret News. Associated Press. p. D1. The Penguins...beat the defending champion Detroit Red Wings Game 7 and win the Stanley Cup for the third time...In 2003...the last series in which the home team won all seven games...the Mighty Ducks team that lost then was coached by current Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock. 
  6. ^ Babcock receives four-year extension, October 11, 2010
  7. ^ Babcock establishes new coaching mark, April 9, 2014
  8. ^ Avalanche's Roy Wins Jack Adams Award, June 24, 2014
  9. ^ Detroit Red Wings' Mike Babcock happy to be second-fastest coach to reach 500 wins, December 6, 2014
  10. ^ Wawrow, John (May 19, 2015). AP source: Babcock in contract talks with Buffalo Sabres. Associated Press. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Mike Babcock named Maple Leafs head coach
  12. ^ St. James, Helene (May 20, 2015). "Babcock leaves Red Wings for megacontract with Leafs". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Five years, $15M for McLellan in Edmonton". NBC Sports. Retrieved May 21, 2015. 
  14. ^ Cotsonika, Nicholas J. "No goons, just good: Red Wings' winning ways fights NHL belief that every team needs enforcer". Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Pleiness, Chuck. "Red Wings focused on play between the whistles". Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Sortable Team Stats (NHL)". 
  19. ^ "Sortable Team Stats (NHL)". 
  20. ^ "Babcock named Canada’s Olympic team bench boss". National Post. June 25, 2009. 
  21. ^ Elliott, Helene (March 1, 2010). "Canada defeats U.S., 3-2, to win gold medal in men's hockey". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  22. ^ a b "Hockey's exclusive company". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  23. ^ a b Merk, Martin (February 28, 2010). "Triple gold for Eric Staal". 
  24. ^ "Mike Babcock Day announcement". 
  25. ^ Mike Babcock named head coach of Canada's National Men's Team for 2013-14 season, July 22, 2013
  26. ^ "Mike Babcock-Led Team Canada Wins Second Consecutive Gold Medal". 
  27. ^ Canada wins second straight gold medal, February 23, 2014
  28. ^ "Mike Babcock - Head Coach". Detroit Red Wings. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  29. ^ Wolfe, Cory (2008-06-05). "Dream Come True". The Star Phoenix. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  30. ^ Niyo, John (2008-06-06). "Babcock sticks to winning blueprint". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  31. ^ "Mike Babcok NHL & WHA Coaching Record". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
Preceded by
Bryan Murray
Head coach of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Succeeded by
Randy Carlyle
Preceded by
Dave Lewis
Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings
Succeeded by
Jeff Blashill
Preceded by
Peter Horachek
Head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs
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