DETROIT >> The Mike Babcock coaching era in Detroit has officially drawn to a close.
And his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs will begin.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Babcock will be announced as the new coach for the Maple Leafs, inking an eight-year deal worth $50 million.
Toronto got into a bidding war with the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday.
The Wings also drove up their final five-year offer to Babcock, 52, to $4 million a season.
Babcock, who’s under contract until June 30, has been Detroit’s coach for the last 10 seasons.
Detroit will get a third-round pick during the next three seasons from Toronto has compensation.
The Wings have been the only team in the salary-cap era to reach the playoffs every season, all under Babcock.
However, the Wings have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in three of the last four seasons and haven’t made it out of the second round of the playoffs since losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final in the 2008-09 season, the year after Babcock won his only Cup in Detroit.
Four teams asked the Wings permission to speak with Babcock – Buffalo, Toronto, San Jose and St. Louis.
Babcock wanted to go to a team that would be an instant contender and with a young core group.
Toronto has none of that.
The Leafs have won 13 Stanley Cups, but the last came in 1967.
The Leafs last made the playoffs in 2013, losing in the first round to the Boston Bruins in a heartbreaking Game 7.
The last trip to the postseason prior to that was 2004.
Toronto also doesn’t have a general manager in place.
Babcock does know Toronto president Brendan Shanahan, who played under him for one season in Detroit.
He could also have more player control than he had in Detroit, but it’s not known how much.
Toronto does have the fifth and 24th overall picks in this year’s draft.
Babcock saw Detroit’s core – 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.”
Detroit’s last contract offer to Babcock prior to the Wednesday was a four-year deal worth $3.25 million a season, which is a significant increase from the $2 million a year he made in his last contract.
Detroit’s next coach will be Jeff Blashill.
Three teams have asked the Wings permission to speak with Blashill, which they promptly denied.
Detroit gave Blashill a hefty raise last summer to stay in the organization, seemingly as an insurance card if Babcock decided to bolt after this season.
Blashill, who led the Grand Griffins to the Calder Cup title in 2013 and has them in the conference finals this year, is making double of what the average American League Hockey coach gets paid.