Hitchcock almost certain to be back for another season with the Blues

Ken Hitchcock (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s a good chance the St. Louis Blues and Ken Hitchcock will agree on a one-year contract, perhaps as early as sometime this week. This is a situation that might rankle a lot of coaches, given that Mike Babcock just received an eight-year deal to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. In fact, given that the Blues spoke with Babcock about the possibility of replacing Hitchcock, he might be excused for telling the Blues precisely where they could do with their one-year contract extension.

The public perception has been that the Blues have left their coach twisting in the wind over the past couple of weeks, that he’s their fallback option only if they can’t come up with someone better.

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Shero, Bylsma reuniting in New Jersey? Report says Devils granted permission to speak with coach

Jared Clinton
Dan Bylsma. (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

From late in the 2008-09 season until the culmination of the 2013-14 campaign, GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma were the architects behind the Pittsburgh Penguins club that won one Stanley Cup and fell just a few wins short of returning to the final. Now it appears they could be reunited in New Jersey.

According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penguins are looking for a way to acquire additional draft picks in the first few rounds of the 2015 draft and one option might be to land compensation for another team hiring Bylsma, who is still under contract with the club even though he was relieved of his duties following the 2013-14 campaign. And, Molinari reports, while it’s known that Bylsma has interviewed for the openings in Buffalo and San Jose, it’s believed that he has also been given permission to talk to New Jersey about their opening behind the bench.

With Shero taking over the GM duties in New Jersey, it would seem like Bylsma heading to the Devils could be a reunion waiting to happen. Read more

Is Mark Hunter poised to be next GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Ken Campbell
Mark Hunter  (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

A person who has interviewed for the Toronto Maple Leafs GM job told me Thursday that nothing that unfolded during the Mike Babcock hiring came as a surprise to him. Team president Brendan Shanahan made it clear to this person that the coach was going to be hired before the GM and that the search for a new person to run the hockey department is still very much open.

Shanahan has displayed a unique management style through all of this. Whether it works brilliantly or blows up in his face will be revealed in time. If it does succeed, and it might, it could provide a template for future executives. And that is, find the people you want first and worry about job titles later. Read more

Mike Babcock thanks Detroit Red Wings fans with full-page ad

Jared Clinton
Mike Babcock (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Thursday afternoon, Mike Babcock was officially introduced to Toronto media as the new coach of the Maple Leafs. Friday morning, Red Wings fans in Detroit woke up to a full-page advertisement in the Detroit Free Press from their former coach, thanking them for all the cheers.

Babcock, who coached the Red Wings to 10 consecutive post-season appearances, two straight appearances in the Stanley Cup finals and one Stanley Cup victory, used the advertisement to give thanks to thanks for the support he and his family have received over their decade in Hockeytown and as one final goodbye to the fans they have grown to love during Babcock’s 10 years in Detroit. Read more

Leafs get their guy in Mike Babcock; now he needs his guys on the ice

Ryan Kennedy
Mike Babcock (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When elite hockey writers began scanning flight plan websites, you knew this was going to be a different kind of circus. And when it was finally confirmed that the Toronto Maple Leafs had hired Mike Babcock as their new head coach, the corresponding media bomb went off. Less than 24 hours later, the former Detroit Red Wings bench boss has his first press conference out of the way and the table has been set…somewhat.

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Julien coach of Bruins “as of today,” says GM Sweeney

Jared Clinton
Claude Julien (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

There has been much speculation about the status of Bruins coach Claude Julien’s position with the team and new Boston GM Don Sweeney did little to put those questions to rest during his introductory press conference Wednesday.

Sweeney, who was named the eighth GM in Bruins history early Wednesday, met with media to discuss his vision for the club, what he likes about the squad and what will need changing when he was asked about Julien. His response was one that was more wait-and-see than he’s-our-guy.

“He’s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today, for sure,” Sweeney said. Read more

Babcock to the Leafs a bad thing? Only if you don’t like winning

Adam Proteau
Mike Babcock (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

So, let me get this straight: Mike Babcock, one of the most respected, productive hockey coaches alive today and the most sought-after free agent this summer – player or otherwise – signs with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and this is a negative? The Maple Leafs use some of the millions they’ve saved under the NHL’s salary cap system and establish instant credibility in a dressing room that needed a full fumigation after the the toxic 2014-15 campaign, and team president Brendan Shanahan somehow screwed this hire up?

Sorry, not buying it. Read more

Good luck with the Maple Leafs, Mike Babcock, you’re going to need it

Mike Babcock Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

After all of Brendan Shanahan’s bluster about doing things the right way, about conducting a proper, methodical and ultimately successful rebuild, the Toronto Maple Leafs went out and were your father’s Toronto Maple Leafs. They got the big fish, won the press conference and made a larger splash than Kiska, the killer whale at Marineland.

For $6.25 million a year for the next eight years, they got Mike Babcock, the best coach and the most sought-after free agent coach in the game’s history. He’s also a man who has won one Stanley Cup in the last decade with an organization that strives for excellence, and who has won Olympic gold medals for the country that produces the best players on the planet and designates more resources to the game than all the other countries combined. He’s a coach whose teams have lost in the first round two of the past three seasons despite having Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the roster.

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