Mike Babcock facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsMike Babcock
Babcock in 2013
April 29, 1963 |
Manitouwadge, Ontario, Canada
|Coached for||Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Mike Babcock (born April 29, 1963) is a Canadian ice hockey coach. He spent parts of eighteen seasons as a professional and head coach in the National Hockey League (NHL). He began as head coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, whom he led to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. In 2005, Babcock signed with the Detroit Red Wings, winning the Stanley Cup with them in 2008, and helping them to the Stanley Cup playoffs every year during his tenure, becoming the winningest coach in Red Wings history. In 2015, he left Detroit to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs, a position he held until he was fired in 2019. In 2023, he attempted a return to the NHL as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets; however, he resigned before the beginning of the 2023–24 season, without coaching a game, amidst investigations into allegations of misconduct.
Babcock was born in Manitouwadge, Ontario, and grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. As of December 2023, he is the only coach to gain entry to the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup title, IIHF World Championship title, and Olympic gold medal in men's ice hockey). He guided the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2008; he led Team Canada to gold at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in 2004; and he led Team Canada to gold at both the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Babcock is the only coach to win six distinct national or international titles. In addition to the three distinct titles described above, he guided Canada to gold at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, to gold at the IIHF World Junior Championships in 1997, and the University of Lethbridge to the CIS University Cup in 1994. During his first coaching tenure from 1991–2019, Babcock's teams missed the post-season only four times.
- Education and playing career
- Coaching career
- Coaching style
- International coaching career
- Personal life
- Head coaching record
Education and playing career
Babcock played for the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 1980–81, and spent a season with the WHL Kelowna Wings in 1982–83. In between, he played a year under Dave King at the University of Saskatchewan, and transferred to McGill University in 1983, to play for coach Ken Tyler. In September 1985, Babcock also had a brief try-out with the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. While at McGill University, Babcock joined the Tau Alpha chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
Babcock graduated from McGill in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in physical education, and also did some post-graduate work in sports psychology. In 146 career games with the Redmen, he tallied 22 goals and 85 assists for a total of 107 points and 301 penalty minutes, graduating as the second-highest scoring defenceman in McGill history. Playing for McGill from four seasons, 1983–84 to 1986–87, he was a two-time all-star rearguard, served as captain, and also won the Bobby Bell trophy as team MVP.
On November 25, 2013, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) by McGill University. On June 2, 2016, Babcock was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) by the University of Saskatchewan.
He moved to the United Kingdom in 1987 as a player-coach for Whitley Warriors, who missed out on the league title by two points. In 49 games, he contributed 45 goals and 127 assists, accumulating 123 penalty minutes.
Babcock is one of four McGill University players to coach an NHL team, joining Lester Patrick with the New York Rangers, George Burnett with the Edmonton Oilers, and Guy Boucher with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators. In 2008, Babcock became the second McGill hockey player to coach a Stanley Cup winner after Patrick.
Babcock has had a distinguished coaching career, coaching continuously from 1987 to 2019, including from 2002 to 2019 in the NHL. When he was fired by the Maple Leafs in 2019, he had amassed an NHL coaching record of 700-418-164-19, with his 700 wins currently placing him 12th all-time in coaching wins.
College, juniors, and minors (1988–2002)
Red Deer College
In 1988, Babcock was appointed head coach at Red Deer College in Alberta. He spent three seasons at the school, winning the provincial collegiate championship and earning coach-of-the-year honours in 1989.
Moose Jaw (WHL)
Babcock moved to the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 1991, where he guided the Moose Jaw Warriors for a two-year term. Babcock was fired by the team in 1993 after missing the playoffs and nearly left coaching when he accepted a job in business consulting; however, he was then offered the head coaching position at the University of Lethbridge, and decided to accept.
University of Lethbridge (CIS)
Babcock coached the struggling Lethbridge Pronghorns and helped turn the program around, earning Canada West coach-of-the-year honours in 1993–94 after guiding Lethbridge to their first-ever appearance in post-season play with a 34–11–3 overall mark and a national CIS Cup title after defeating the Guelph Gryphons 5–2 in the championship final.
In 1994, Babcock was appointed head coach of the WHL's Spokane Chiefs, with whom he posted a regular-season record of 224–172–29 over six seasons for a .564 winning percentage. He was twice named as the West Division coach of the year, in 1995–1996 and 1999–2000.
From 2000–01 to 2001–02, Babcock guided the American Hockey League's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks to a 74–59–20–7 record, including a franchise-high 41 wins and 95 points. The team qualified for the playoffs both years.
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Babcock was named head coach of the NHL's Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on May 22, 2002, and through two seasons, guided them to a combined 69–62–19 regular season record. In the Stanley Cup playoffs with the Ducks, he posted a 15–6 record, leading the Mighty Ducks to the team's first Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, where they lost in seven games to the New Jersey Devils.
Detroit Red Wings
Following the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Babcock declined an offer to remain with the Ducks, and on July 15, 2005, was named head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. In his first three seasons, Babcock led the Red Wings to a combined 162–56–28 regular season record and a 28–18 playoff record. He and the Red Wings were eliminated by his former club, the Anaheim Ducks, in the Western Conference Finals of the 2007 playoffs; the Ducks went on to win the Stanley Cup.
In the 2007–08 season, Babcock earned his 200th NHL career win in Detroit's 5–2 victory over the Florida Panthers on December 15, 2007. Heading into the 2008 All-Star Game, as the top team in the NHL, Babcock was selected to coach the Western Conference in the All-Star Game. On June 4, 2008, he led the Red Wings to another Stanley Cup championship by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
Babcock was announced as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for the 2007–08 season, awarded to the coach who best contributes to his team's success, but ultimately finished third behind Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals and Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens.
In June 2008, Babcock signed a three-year contract extension with the Red Wings. In the 2008–09 season, the Red Wings again made the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the loss in Game 7, Babcock became the first head coach to lose a Stanley Cup Finals series in Game 7 with two different teams.
In the 2011 playoffs, Babcock's Red Wings fell behind the San Jose Sharks three games to none in the second round, but won three-straight to force a Game 7, which the Wings lost 3–2. At this point in his coaching career, Babcock had accumulated an impressive NHL playoff record of 63–39.
In October 2010, Babcock signed a four-year extension with the Red Wings that saw him through to the end of the 2014–15 season.
On April 8, 2014, Babcock earned his 414th career win as head coach of the Red Wings, surpassing Jack Adams as the winningest coach in Red Wings history. Babcock was announced as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for the 2013–14 season, his second nomination, but finished second in voting behind Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche. On December 6, 2014, Babcock earned his 500th career win as a head coach, becoming the second-fastest coach in NHL history to do so; only Hockey Hall of Famer and former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman reached the 500-win plateau faster.
Toronto Maple Leafs
After failing to come to terms on a contract extension with the Red Wings, Babcock requested and received permission to seek employment elsewhere on May 8, 2015. The Buffalo Sabres, who had the best odds at picking first overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft for the right to select phenom Connor McDavid, were considered the most serious contenders for Babcock's services, with the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks also being in the mix. However, on May 20, 2015, it was announced that Babcock would become the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He reportedly signed an eight-year contract worth $50 million (an average of $6.25 million per season), making him the highest-paid coach in NHL history by more than double the previous record holder's annual earnings. Prior to Babcock signing the contract, Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers was the highest-paid coach in the NHL, reportedly earning $3 million per season.
On February 4, 2016, in a game against the New Jersey Devils, Babcock coached his 1,000 NHL game. The Maple Leafs finished last in the entire league during Babcock's first year, compiling a record of 29–42–11 and 69 points. Despite this, praise was given to Babcock's coaching and patience with a team that was expected to do extremely poorly. This season was also the first time Babcock missed the playoffs since the 2004 playoffs when he was with the Mighty Ducks.
The last place finish helped the Maple Leafs win the draft lottery, and the number one pick was used to select coveted centre Auston Matthews. The next season was marked by many high-end rookies in Toronto's system, including Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown, among others, making the team to play out the 2016–17 season. Babcock worked closely with these rookies, and their youthful energy and talent, coupled with the addition of goaltender Frederik Andersen, allowed the team to qualify for the playoffs, marking a rare occasion where a team goes from last in the league to capturing a playoff appearance. Toronto faced the top-seeded Washington Capitals in the first round, and though many analyzed the series as lopsided in the Capitals' favour, the Maple Leafs again defied expectations, pushing the Capitals to six games—with five going to overtime, tying an NHL record—before the team was eliminated by the Capitals. Babcock's coaching was praised throughout the playoffs as it was during the regular season, with many lauding his attempts at player development while maintaining a high level of team success. In recognition for these achievements throughout the season, Babcock was nominated for the Jack Adams Award, but once again lost to John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Expectations for the Maple Leafs grew, but despite regular season success the team proved unable to break through in the playoffs, losing seven-game first-round playoff series to the Boston Bruins in 2018 and in 2019. On November 20, 2019, the Maple Leafs fired Babcock after a six-game losing streak and amidst allegations of a toxic work environment. At the time, the team had a record of 9–10–4 and were outside of the playoffs, despite being projected before the season began to be Stanley Cup contenders. This was the first time in Babcock's professional coaching career that he had been fired.
University of Saskatchewan
On February 20, 2021, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies announced that Babcock would become the coach of the Men's hockey team for two seasons starting May 2021 on a volunteer basis. Babcock took the opportunity to coach in his hometown in large part for the chance to coach alongside his son, Michael, who was pursuing a degree at the U of S and joined Mike on the bench as an assistant coach. Babcock opted to resign on August 25, 2022, after one season with the Huskies, stating that he wanted to provide an opportunity for a bigger role for the team's assistant coaches. The team had posted a 14–9 record under Babcock. The following day, Babcock announced that he was retiring from coaching.
Columbus Blue Jackets
With his contract expiring with the Maple Leafs, on July 1, 2023, Babcock was named the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, his first NHL position since 2019, signing a two-year, $8 million total contract to become the highest paid coach in team history.
On September 12, 10 weeks after being named Columbus' head coach, allegations of improper behavior first surfaced on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast, with reports that Babcock had ordered players to show him their photos on their cellphone as part of a character building exercise. In response to the reports, the NHL and NHLPA both opened investigations into Babcock's behaviour. Although initial investigations did not yield any reports of wrongdoing or discomfort by the players, including from general manager Kekalainen who Babcock had also asked to see photos from, as the investigations progressed, it was learned that several players, namely the younger members of the roster, were uncomfortable with Babcock's behaviour. Shortly after both investigations concluded, the parties contacted the Blue Jackets with their findings, at which point the team determined that there was no path forward where Babcock could coach. After two days of contract settlement negotiations, Babcock announced his resignation as head coach on September 17, before the start of the team's initial training camp. The team subsequently apologized to their players for hiring Babcock amid fan criticism of the decision given previous revelations regarding Babcock's perceived toxic coaching methodologies and interactions in both Detroit and Toronto.
Babcock's teams generally focus on skills and puck possession over physical play and toughness. Babcock continued his tradition of building a team with skills rather than enforcement in Detroit. Since the 2005–06 season, Babcock's teams have consistently had the fewest penalty minutes of any NHL team; from 2005 to 2015, the Red Wings averaged 22 percent fewer penalty minutes than the league average, and 44 percent fewer penalty minutes than the highest league total.
International coaching career
In addition to his club coaching roles, Babcock has had a long career coaching with Hockey Canada. He first coached Canada's entry at the 1997 World Junior Championships in Switzerland, where the country won a fifth consecutive gold medal, defeating the United States 2–0 in the final. Babcock coached Canada's senior team for the first time at the 2004 IIHF World Championships in the Czech Republic, guiding Canada to a second consecutive gold medal with a 5–3 win over Sweden in the final.
On June 24, 2009, Babcock was announced as the head coach of Team Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The team finished the round robin with a regulation win over Norway, a shootout win over Switzerland, and a loss to the United States. In the elimination rounds they defeated Germany, Russia, and then Slovakia to advance to the final, where they defeated the United States 3–2 in overtime to win the gold medal. With the win, Babcock became the first coach—and only thus far—in the International Ice Hockey Federation's Triple Gold Club, which he earned through his Olympic Gold, World Championship gold, and 2008 Stanley Cup title. To honour Babcock's entrance into the Triple Gold Club, his hometown of Saskatoon announced that July 17, 2010 would be known as "Mike Babcock Day."
On July 22, 2013, it was announced that Babcock would return as head coach of Team Canada for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The team finished the round robin with regulation wins over Norway, and Austria, and an overtime win over Finland. In the quarterfinals they defeated Latvia, and in the semifinals they defeated the United States to advance to the gold medal game, where they defeated Sweden 3–0. With the win, Babcock became only the second head coach to lead one country to a gold medal victory in consecutive Olympic appearances, after Viktor Tikhonov with the Soviet team in 1984 and 1988.
Babcock also coached Canada to victory at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, making him the first and only coach to date to have won the Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, World Cup, World Championship, and World Junior Championship.
Babcock is of Irish descent through a grandfather. Mike and his wife, Maureen, have three children. Although he was born in Manitouwadge, Ontario, he grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He spent the majority of his childhood moving around between Northern Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, before his family settled in Saskatoon, which he considers his hometown, in 1975. Babcock attended both St. James Elementary School and Holy Cross High School on Saskatoon's east side; Babcock is one of the many notable graduates on Holy Cross High School's "Wall of Honour."
Babcock is an outspoken advocate for the Bell Let's Talk campaign, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and other mental health awareness campaigns. In 2017, he became involved with a campaign called Ahead of the Game to raise money for youth mental health in sport.
Babcock was made a member of the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2018.
Head coaching record
|1991–92||Moose Jaw Warriors||33||36||3||6th in East||Lost East Division quarter-final|
|1992–93||Moose Jaw Warriors||27||42||3||8th in East||Did not qualify|
|1994–95||Spokane Chiefs||32||36||4||5th West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1995–96||Spokane Chiefs||50||18||4||1st in West||Lost WHL finals|
|1996–97||Spokane Chiefs||35||33||4||3rd in West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1997–98||Spokane Chiefs||45||23||4||2nd in West||Lost West Division final|
|1998–99||Spokane Chiefs||19||44||9||7th in West||Did not qualify|
|1999–2000||Spokane Chiefs||47||19||6||1st in West||Lost WHL finals|
|2000–01||Cincinnati Mighty Ducks||41||26||13||2nd in South||Lost in first round|
|2001–02||Cincinnati Mighty Ducks||33||33||14||3rd in Central||Lost in preliminary round|
|Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||2002–03||82||40||27||9||6||95||2nd in Pacific||21||15||6||.714||Lost in Stanley Cup Finals|
|Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||2003–04||82||29||35||10||8||76||4th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Mighty Ducks of Anaheim totals||164||69||62||19||14||21||15||6||.714|
|Detroit Red Wings||2005–06||82||58||16||—||8||124||1st in Central||6||2||4||.333||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals|
|Detroit Red Wings||2006–07||82||50||19||—||13||113||1st in Central||18||10||8||.556||Lost in Conference Finals|
|Detroit Red Wings||2007–08||82||54||21||—||7||115||1st in Central||22||16||6||.727||Won Stanley Cup|
|Detroit Red Wings||2008–09||82||51||21||—||10||112||1st in Central||23||15||8||.652||Lost in Stanley Cup Finals|
|Detroit Red Wings||2009–10||82||44||24||—||14||102||2nd in Central||12||5||7||.417||Lost in Conference Semifinals|
|Detroit Red Wings||2010–11||82||47||25||—||10||104||1st in Central||11||7||4||.636||Lost in Conference Semifinals|
|Detroit Red Wings||2011–12||82||48||28||—||6||102||3rd in Central||5||1||4||.200||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals|
|Detroit Red Wings||2012–13||48||24||16||—||8||56||3rd in Central||14||7||7||.500||Lost in Conference Semifinals|
|Detroit Red Wings||2013–14||82||39||28||—||15||93||4th in Atlantic||5||1||4||.200||Lost in First Round|
|Detroit Red Wings||2014–15||82||43||25||—||14||100||3rd in Atlantic||7||3||4||.429||Lost in First Round|
|Detroit Red Wings totals||786||458||223||—||105||123||67||56||.545|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2015–16||82||29||42||—||11||69||8th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2016–17||82||40||27||—||15||95||4th in Atlantic||6||2||4||.333||Lost in First Round|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2017–18||82||49||26||—||7||105||3rd in Atlantic||7||3||4||.429||Lost in First Round|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2018–19||82||46||28||—||8||100||3rd in Atlantic||7||3||4||.429||Lost in First Round|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2019–20||23||9||10||—||4||22||Fired||—||—||—||—||—|
|Toronto Maple Leafs totals||351||173||133||—||45||20||8||12||.400|
|NHL totals||1,301||700||418||19||164||164||90||74||.549||1 Stanley Cup
14 playoff appearances
Mike Babcock Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.