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Babcock's Legacy in Detroit is Mixed Amid Recent Controversy

Publish Date: 20/02/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Former Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has etched his name into the franchise record books. In ten seasons behind the bench, Babcock set a team record for wins.

In 2008 he guided a star-studded Red Wings team to the Stanley Cup title. He also showed off a gritty, workmanlike demeanor that endeared himself to the working class people of Detroit and Michigan.

But last week Babcock was forced to resign from the Columbus Blue Jackets after reports emerged that he had breached the privacy of some of his players. Babcock allegedly forced players to show him photos on their cell phones, and is accused of verbally intimidating players.

“Babcock is the worst person i’ve ever met”

The Babcock accusations shouldn’t be completely shocking. Former Red Wings star Johan Franzen, called Babock the “worst person I ever met.” Others in the NHL have pointed out the bullying tactics Babcock has occasionally employed in his positions with various teams.

Now, despite his tremendous success in Detroit (the Wings never failed to make the playoffs with Babcock as head coach), the former play caller is in danger of being ignored by the franchise where he had his greatest success.

Took Over a 48 team Win Back in 04’

It wasn’t easy for Babcock, who succeeded legends Dave Lewis and Scotty Bowman. Expectations were sky-high when Babcock took over a 48-win team fresh of the Presidents' Trophy in 2004. But Babcock provided a blend of toughness and distance, knowing how to motivate young players and the many veterans on the Detroit roster.

“I loved his clubhouse,” said Kris Draper, who played the final six seasons of his notable career under Babcock. “If you worked hard, he treated you like a man.”

Dumped by Columbus

No list of great Detroit head coaches can be made without Babock, but in light of his unceremonious dumping by Columbus, it appears Babcock is done in the NHL. He may be the victim of the modern era of hockey where players bristle at tough love, and buck under the hard reins of an old school taskmaster.

Bowman was known for his yelling and big dog house for players who disappointed him, but those traits never tainted his reputation.

Derek LaLonde is now ensconced as coach of the Red Wings, hand-chosen by general manager Steve Yzerman. LaLonde is a new-school coach, more likely to hug a player than whip him into shape verbally. More likely to praise his roster to the media than rip a malcontent.

Whether the new era coaching style will help the Wings return to the Stanley Cup playoffs or not, remains to be seen.

Stay informed with the latest developments from around the world by exploring our News Section, where we categorize all the updates and ensuring you have access to all the information you need, in one place.

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