By R.G. Mason

(courtesy Blue Jackets Communications)

 JULY 1, 2023

Stanley Cup, two-time Olympic gold medal-winning coach ranks 12th on the NHL’s all-time wins list with 700

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have named Mike Babcock the ninth head coach in franchise history, General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.  Babcock agreed to a two-year contract through the 2024-25 National Hockey League season.

“Our goal at the outset of this process was to find a coach to give our players the best chance to succeed through structure, discipline and experience as we continue to build a team that can compete for a Stanley Cup championship,” said Kekalainen.  “After a very thorough and lengthy process we are pleased to welcome Mike Babcock as the next head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.”

Babcock, 60, has compiled a 700-418-183 record (.608 points percentage) in 1,301 regular season games over 17 NHL seasons from 2002-19 with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.  He ranks 12th on the NHL’s all-time wins list and is 16th in games coached, while his teams registered 100 or more points and a .600 or better points percentage 10 times in 14 seasons from 2005-19.  Among the coaches in the top 15 on the NHL’s all-time wins list, Babcock’s .608 points percentage ranks third behind Scotty Bowman (.657) and Joel Quenneville (.612).

“We are committed to building a Stanley Cup champion and doing it the right way through hard work, pride, professionalism and respect,” said club President of Hockey Operations John Davidson.  “We had extensive conversations internally, with numerous people around our league, with Mike during the interview process, and with players in our leadership group, and we believe we have found the right coach in Mike Babcock.”

Born in Manitouwadge, Ontario and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Babcock led his teams into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on 14 occasions, compiling a 90-74 record and winning the 2008 Stanley Cup with the Red Wings.   He also led the Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Final and Red Wings to the 2009 Final.

“I’d like to thank my family for their support as well as the ownership group led by the McConnell family, Mike Priest, JD and Jarmo for giving me the opportunity to come here,” said Babcock.  “This is a terrific city with strong ownership, a great management team, talented players, world-class facilities and a dedicated, passionate fan base, and I couldn’t be more excited to be the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.”

Babcock began his NHL coaching career with Anaheim in 2002-03 after spending the previous two seasons as head coach of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate.  He posted a 69-62-33 record (.521) in 164 games in two seasons with Anaheim.  He led the club to a Western Conference championship and Stanley Cup Final berth in his first season behind the bench with a 40-27-15 record (95 pts.) and a 15-6 mark in the postseason.

He joined the Red Wings in 2005 and is the franchise’s all-time winningest coach with a 458-223-105 record (.649) in 786 games over 10 seasons from 2005-15.  During his tenure, Detroit won five division titles and qualified for the postseason every year.  He led the club to a pair Presidents’ Trophies after the Red Wings led the NHL with regular season records of 58-16-8 (124 pts.) in 2005-06 and 54-21-7 (115 pts.) in 2007-08.  Detroit played in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009 and won the franchise’s 11th title in 2008.  That year, he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s most outstanding coach.

In 2015, Babcock was named head coach of the Maple Leafs, who had qualified for the postseason just once in the previous 10 years.  He went on to lead the club to a 173-133-45 record (.557) in 351 games from 2015-19, including three-straight appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 2017-19 and the first back-to-back 100-point seasons in franchise history in 2017-18 (49-26-7, 105 pts.) and 2018-19 (46-28-8, 100 pts.).

Babcock is one of the most decorated coaches in international hockey having served as the head coach for Canada at numerous international tournaments.  He led the country to gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, 2004 IIHF World Championships and 1997 IIHF World Junior Championships.  In addition, he led Canada to the championship at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey tournament.

He is the first and, to date, only head coach to be a member of the Triple Gold Club, which includes coaches and players who have won a Stanley Cup, Olympic Games gold medal and World Championship gold medal.  In addition, he is one of two coaches to lead their teams to back-to-back Olympic gold medals.  The other is Viktor Tikhonov, who led the Soviet Union to gold in 1984 and 1988.

As a defenseman, Babcock played for the Saskatoon Blades and Kelowna Wings in the Western Hockey League from 1980-83 and at McGill University from 1983-87.  He began his coaching career as a player-coach for the Whitley Warriors in the United Kingdom in 1987-88 and a year later served as the head coach at Red Deer College in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.  He went on to lead the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors (1991-93) and Spokane Chiefs (1994-2000).  Over the past three seasons, he served as a senior advisor at the University of Vermont in 2020-21 and the head coach at the University of Saskatchewan in 2021-22.

Babcock and his wife, Maureen, are the parents of a son, Michael III, and daughters, Alexandra and Taylor.