Pens Must Pursue Mike Babcock Next Summer


Mar 22, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Detroit Red Wings wins 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The search for a new coach is still ongoing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and there really hasn’t been any indication as to who are the candidates.

Announcing the firing of Dan Bylsma during his press conference last Friday, new general manager Jim Rutherford has been on the search for his replacement, and has said he’d like to have one in place before Jul. 1 – per Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Whoever Rutherford ultimately decides to hire, it has to be on a one-year basis, because by the time next summer rolls around, Detroit Red Wings’ legendary head coach Mike Babcock will be a free man.

With just one-year remaining on his contract, Babcock – barring a new extension – is set to hit the open market, and Pittsburgh shouldn’t hesitate to pounce.

I know what you’re thinking: how could Babcock ever think about leaving Detroit’s organization after he’s laid such a prominent foundation? Well, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, and Henrik Zetterberg are all getting up there in age, and considering Babcock – like every coach – wants the best shot at the Cup, Pittsburgh gives that too him.

The familiarity is there. Having coached Sidney Crosby in two Winter Games and Chris Kunitz for one, Babcock won’t be walking into a peculiar circumstance. Babcock’s just what Pittsburgh needs; he’s stern, knowledgable, makes the proper adjustments, and demands perfection. I’m sure that’s every coach’s aim, but Babcock is the best out of the bunch.

Given Pittsburgh’s uncalled for frustration over recent playoffs, Babcock is the type of coach to put his foot down. He doesn’t take any retaliation from nobody, doesn’t care who you are, or what you’ve done; only where you’re going. Detroit’s had some great teams – some of the best the league has ever seen – but Pittsburgh’s current roster has got to be better.

You give Babcock a team like the Pens have right now and he makes them instant contenders. Of course, Pittsburgh’s going to have to woo the headmaster with a substantial offer, but I say give him what he wants. Heck, if you’re paying Kris Letang $7.25 million per year, the least they could do is empty their wallets for one of the best, if not thee, best coach to ever live.

Look, if Pittsburgh’s adamant about winning Cups while Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in their primes, then stop adding rental players that don’t pan out and start by bringing in a coach who’s going to get them to said promise land. Babcock’s addition would also motivate the players. Sometimes, a respected coach lights a fire under players. He’ll provide that flame.

As for who they should sign now, Pittsburgh still probably wants a good coach, obviously, they don’t want to throw a season away just ’cause they want Babcock, but don’t make a large commitment either. Understand that by giving their eventual coach a small deal, that he’ll have to earn it. That’s how Bylsma was born – given an opportunity and excelled.

Nonetheless, Babcock’s name shouldn’t be far off their radar.