Mike Babcock (Getty Images)
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock won his 500th NHL game on Saturday, adding another bullet point to the list of reasons why he deserves to be the highest-paid coach in the game.
Mike Babcock didn’t go looking for a fireman’s hat to celebrate his 500th career win behind the bench on Saturday night.
He'd probably happier to make a few more dollars on his next contract.
The Detroit Red Wings coach became the second-fasted bench boss to 500 wins on Saturday, as his squad scored twice in a 61-second span and came from behind to win 3-2 over the New York Rangers.
The Wings gave up two first period goals but then shut the door in a defensive display that no doubt made their coach proud. Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening scored in rapid succession to erase a two-goal deficit in the second, and Darren Helm had the game-winner in the third off the rush.
But Babcock’s penalty killers were the real stars in the third period. They killed off two 5-on-3 Ranger power plays, and held New York without a shot on the first 47-second disadvantage.
Drew Miller broke his stick killing the second 5-on-3 and couldn’t get off, but the Wings still managed to keep the Rangers from scoring.
Watch as Miller does his best to kill the penalty without a stick, even as the Rangers hammer the puck on net.
The win ties Babcock with Hall of Fame coach Toe Blake for 18th on the all-time victories list. It also makes Babcock the second-fastest coach to reach 500 wins, behind only Scotty Bowman.
Saturday was Babcock’s 895th game in the NHL and comes in his 10th season in Detroit, after two years coaching the Anaheim Ducks.
But it could also be Babcock’s last season in Hockeytown, with his contract up this summer and rumours circulating that he might bolt for more money elsewhere.
He's already reportedly turned down a contract extension, and he will undoubtedly have his choice of destinations and dollar figures if he does choose to leave Detroit. Hitting the 500 win milestone doesn't mean he deserves more money in itself, but it does show just how successful he's been over the course of his career.
Although given that the vast majority of his wins (and his Stanley Cup ring) came while coaching Detroit, he might be wise to stay put.