Maple Leafs hire Babcock as new head coach

Wed May 20, 2015 6:28pm EDT
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(Reuters) - The Toronto Maple Leafs won the Mike Babcock sweepstakes on Wednesday by beating out a handful of teams that tried to land the highly-coveted head coach who spent the last 10 NHL seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed in a statement by the Maple Leafs but the team reportedly offered Babcock a mammoth eight-year contract worth $50 million that would make him the National Hockey League's highest-paid coach.

Babcock, considered one of the most accomplished active coaches in the league, succeeds Peter Horachek, who filled in on an interim basis after Randy Carlyle was fired in January when Toronto fell out of playoff contention.

A number of teams courted Babcock but it reportedly came down to a bidding war between Toronto, Buffalo and Detroit. His contract with Detroit expires next month and the team offered him a five-year deal worth $20 million while Buffalo reportedly offered $30 million over six years.

Because Babcock is still under contract with the Red Wings, Toronto have to give up a third-round draft pick within the next three years as compensation to Detroit for signing the coach.

Detroit never missed the playoffs under Babcock, and they won a Stanley Cup in 2008. Babcock was also behind the bench for the Canadian men's teams that won the ice hockey gold medals at the last two Olympics.

The 52-year-old coach compiled a .649 winning percentage in Detroit where he guided the Red Wings to five division titles, two appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals, and three trips to the penultimate round of the playoffs.

Babcock also spent two seasons (2002-04) with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, where in his first season as head coach he led the Ducks to their maiden appearance in the Stanley Cup finals.

That season saw Anaheim record a then franchise-best 40 wins and 95 points, making them the most improved team in the NHL as they finished 26 points ahead of their 2001-02 total.   Continued...

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock addresses the media after the game against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center, in Chicago, in this file photo taken May 25, 2013. Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports/Files