The Toronto Maple Leafs have been mired in the basement of the NHL for several seasons, but the hiring of coach Mike Babcock is giving Leafs Nation a reason for hope for a better and much brighter future.
While he hasn’t coached long enough to make the top 10 all-time wins list, Babcock does have the most of any coach to be behind the bench for fewer than 1,000 games. As such, he has managed to become one of the effective coaches in the history of the game.
In order to better represent who exactly the top 10 coaches by points percentage are, however, we have to set a limit of at least 100 games as an NHL bench boss. Otherwise some coaches, like Cap Raeder, who was the fill-in coach for the San Jose Sharks for one game – a victory – have near perfect winning percentages without really having control of the club.
Here are the top 10 best coaches by points percentage: Read more
Mike Babcock is inching closer to making his decision about where he will be coaching next season and his free agent saga could come to an end Wednesday.
The longtime Detroit Red Wings coach told MLive.com’s Ansar Khan that he has now talked to every team he is going to speak to about their coaching vacancies and that he is planning on talking things through with his family and Detroit GM Ken Holland one more time.
“Just going to re-visit everything one more time (with Holland),” Babcock told Khan. “I’ve talked to all the teams I’m talking to.” Read more
By George Johnson
Watching his father, Paul, on ESPN Classic is like being transported into another world for Sam Reinhart. But it’s not his dad’s skill that has Sam in awe. The effortless skating style, crisp passing and ability to read the play in the high-octane ’80s – all of that transcends eras and styles. Besides, as the most hotly anticipated teenage talent outside the NHL not named Connor McDavid, Sam has all those qualities himself.
No, it’s that luxuriant thatch above Paul Reinhart’s upper lip that gets Sam’s attention.
“I’ve been trying to grow that mustache for 19 years,” Sam said.
At 19, Sam may not be able to manage his father’s Chia Pet mustache, but as the baby of the hockey-playing Reinhart brood, he’s the closest in style and the highest in hype. Read more
If you ever need a case study in the stark contrasts that sometimes exist between on-ice perception and off-ice personality, you needn’t go much further than Marcel Pronovost. As rambunctious and dramatic as he was on the ice, he was as humble and respectful off it.
The man Ted Lindsay once called, “the most underrated defenseman every to play in the league,” Pronovost died Sunday in Windsor at the age of 84 after a series of illnesses. And the hockey world is a little less for having lost Pronovost, a man who devoted his life to the game and whose tentacles touched almost every aspect of it, from playing to coaching to scouting. And Pronovost enjoyed an enormous amount of success in all three. Read more
Once the Edmonton Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft lottery, it didn’t take long for pundits to begin speculating over the effect this would have upon the club’s off-season plans. With the Oilers all but certain to select Erie Otters wunderkind Connor McDavid first overall, GM Craig MacTavish will have some intriguing options to work with to address his other roster needs.
TSN’s Darren Dreger believes MacTavish will go “big-game hunting” this summer via trade or free agency. The Oilers are in need of a starting goaltender and a top-three defenseman.
With the addition of McDavid, the presence of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander’s improvement, the Oilers now have considerable depth at center. They’ll have even more if they re-sign veterans Derek Roy or Boyd Gordon. Dreger suggests promising center Leon Draisaitl could become a trade chip this summer.
NBC Sports’ Jason Brough notes that MacTavish recently said Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle wouldn’t be dealt. With the anticipated addition of McDavid, however, he wonders if that might change. Read more
Was the NHL’s draft lottery presentation the pinnacle of television entertainment? Of course not. But, admit it, your heart pounded through your chest every time Bill Daly flipped over a rectangular team card in his hellish Rorschach test. It was quite the emotional ride, and that was just for fans and journalists. Imagine how team executives felt.
That’s why we should forgive Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray for his downtrodden reaction in the immediate aftermath of seeing the Edmonton Oilers land the first overall pick for the fourth friggin’ time in six years. Sure, Buffalo’s “plan” for Connor McDavid consisted of a mere 20 percent chance of winning the lottery, preceded by what may or may not have been an elaborate season-long tank operation. But in the moment, with a generational talent of McDavid’s ilk closer to Murray’s fingertips than to any other GM’s, who could fault him if his emotional, human side really wanted No. 97 in Western New York?
So Murray’s remark, “I’m disappointed for our fans,” deserves a pass. Who wouldn’t be disappointed? It could’ve been perceived as an affront to prospective No. 2 selection Jack Eichel, but that’s not what it was. Murray also said, “We’re disappointed not to get first, but we’re happy with second. Two franchise-changing guys in this draft.”
Despite the sting of losing McDavid, Murray and the Sabres realize they still very much have a franchise pillar waiting for them on draft day. Sabres fans should do the same. Especially considering how many other pieces the team has amassed in recent seasons.
There are some coaches who, after losing or leaving an NHL job, need time to decompress and recharge their batteries before they start working again. Todd McLellan is clearly not one of those people. This Friday he’ll leave for Prague to coach Canada in the World Championship, then sit back and field offers the way Brad Richards did four years ago.
And those offers will come. From Toronto, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Edmonton and, depending on what his mentor Mike Babcock decides on his own future, perhaps Detroit. But Todd McLellan, who mutually agreed with the San Jose Sharks to part ways with one year left on his deal, will coach in the NHL next season.
“I’m a coach,” McLellan said on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I want to coach.” Read more
It’s heartache in Buffalo and jubilation in Edmonton as for the fourth time in six drafts, the Oilers will pick first overall. This time, they’ll get a chance to draft generational talent Connor McDavid. And if they have any sense at all, they will swing some big deals either before or after the draft.