DETROIT >> A decision on where Mike Babcock will take his coaching talents next season could be coming sooner rather than later.
Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview from the Czech Republic where he’s watching the World Championships, a decision could come as early as late next week.
“Mike said he expected to have a decision way before May 25,” Holland said. “From our perspective, the sooner the better, if he stays we can get on with other things. If he leaves we can start the process to finding a replacement.”
May 25 is the soft deadline Holland imposed in case the Wings need to begin a search for a new head coach.
“Nothing has changed from my part,” Holland said. “We’re really waiting for Mike to talk to some teams and make a decision. I’m in a holding pattern.”
Holland did confirm that Babcock has met with some teams since teams that wanted to meet with him had to sign a compensation letter agreeing that the Wings would get a third-round pick during the next three seasons if they hire him.
The two teams that are known to have spoken with Babcock are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.
Philadelphia and San Jose are the other teams that have coaching vacancies.
The Edmonton Oilers are also in need of a coach, but are reportedly set to hire former Sharks coach and Detroit assistant, Todd McLellan, once the World Championships conclude.
McLellan is coaching Canada.
Holland did shoot down a rumor out of Buffalo that Babcock had chosen to stay in Detroit.
“He hasn’t told me that and I’ve been with him every day,” Holland said. “He hasn’t given me a decision.”
Babcock’s contract expires on June 30.
After the Wings were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for a third time in the last four seasons, Babcock laid out the two main factors that’ll help him make his decision – winning and family.
“My family wants to stay here, my wife and kids,” Babcock said prior to heading overseas. “The Wings have given me the opportunity to talk to other teams and I’m going to take advantage of it.
“Life is about making good decisions,” Babcock continued. “Sometimes the most comfortable time is when you have no decision. I’ve got a good GM, a great owner, they offered me an opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of that.”
Babcock and Holland sat down for an interview with TSN.ca’s Darren Dreger with the current Wings coach saying he’s, “done enough thinking.”
“It’s time to make a decision here pretty quick,” Babcock said. “I’m a big picture guy, but I’m also an immediate gratification guy, too, because I like winning.
“Is change important to invigorate you? I think about lots of things,” Babcock added.
The Wings offered Babcock, who’s spent the last 10 seasons in Detroit, a contract last June that he didn’t accept.
They came back with another offer in January, which is believed to be for four years and just over $3 million a season, but Babcock wanted to wait until the playoffs were over to discuss matters.
Babcock has also focused on the Wings’ core group – Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall – being up there in age.
“Our team isn’t as good as it was,” Babcock said after Detroit was eliminated in seven games by the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Three of our best players are 34, 35, 37, so any way you look at it, we’re a team that’s changed a bunch of players. We’re a team that’s added a lot of youth to the lineup. Right now on the outside they don’t pick us as a Stanley Cup contender.”