Holland set to begin talking to Babcock about possible contract extension

DETROIT >> As Mike Babcock heads into the final year of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings, general manager Ken Holland will at least begin negotiations with him to try and sign him to another extension.

“I wouldn’t categorize our talks as formal negotiations, just because how our relationship is,” Holland said during a phone interview Friday. “I’d like to get him signed to an extension. It might take 10 minutes, it might take two months.”

The two will be in contact beginning next week during their pro scouting meetings and then see each other again at the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Holland said the two have spoken briefly since the season ended, but have not met or talked for an extended period of time.

Babcock just wrapped up his ninth season with the Wings and has compiled a regular season record of 415-198-91.

He’s in the final year of a contract that pays him roughly $2 million a season.

“If he wants to go into the last year of his contract and play out his option that’s his prerogative,” Holland said. “I don’t know if he wants to stay or doesn’t want to stay, but I think he’s happy here.”

Babcock said when the season ended he wasn’t worried about possibly becoming a lame duck coach anytime next season.

“No priority whatsoever,” Babcock said when asked if getting an extension was a priority of his this offseason. “I’m real comfortable with the owner and the manager. That’s not a concern for me one bit.

“When you’re at the stage of my career that I am, I’m real comfortable with whatever they want,” Babcock continued. “I want them to be happy. If they’re not happy then I’m not happy. I have no problem. I can go year to year.”

The Wings were eliminated in five games in the first round of this year’s Eastern Conference playoffs by the Boston Bruins.

It’s the second time in the past three seasons Detroit hasn’t made it out of the first round. They haven’t advanced past the second round the past five postseasons.

Asked if he thought he would talk about a contract extension over the summer Babcock said, “I doubt it. I just told you I’m comfortable. If I was uncomfortable, if this was my gig I’d want an extension, it’s not, I’m good.”

Babcock, 51, is a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given out annually by the broadcasters to the league’s top coach.

Babcock set a franchise record this season with his 415th win, passing Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams, whom the award is named after, in the process. He’s led the Wings to a Stanley Cup and a two conference championships.

 

With a depleted lineup missing stars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, along with free agent signee Stephen Weiss, Babcock had to work with a roster full of youngsters this season and still was able to guide the franchise to a 23rd consecutive postseason berth.

Zetterberg and Datsyuk each played 45 games of the 82-game regular season.

Nine players made their NHL debuts during the regular season, the most since 14 rookies did so during the 1990-91 season.

Babcock has also led Canada to two straight Olympic gold medals.

There had been rumors circulating awhile back that Babcock could eventually take over for Red Berenson as the head coach at the University of Michigan.

“I never even thought about it,” Babcock said when asked if he had a few more years in him to coach in Detroit. “My daughter’s going into her grade 12 year. I’m either going to be the coach of the Red Wings or, I haven’t had a talk with Red Berenson yet, either that or I’ll be Red’s assistant coach for a year.

“For sure I’m staying in Detroit,” Babcock added. “I haven’t thought about going anywhere else. I’m real comfortable. I know Scotty Bowman went year to year sometime here and I’m real comfortable with that. I can get a job. I’m not worried about that. The owner has been better than great to me. They do things right. They treat people right. The GM is a driven guy who can’t stand losing and I like to be around ultracompetitive people.”

Holland is also heading into the final year of his contract with the team.

“We work well together,” Holland said when the season ended. “He and I we want to go farther. I told the players I’m proud of the fact we made the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive year. It’s a hard league to make the playoffs. Thirty teams start the year and 14 miss. It’s getting to the point when the season starts most teams think they can make the playoffs. I’m proud we made the playoffs. I’m proud with all the adversity we faced with injuries, we had a lot of great stories, but nobody here wants to be taking team pictures in April. We certainly have bigger hopes and aspirations.”

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