Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is allowed to talk to other teams in his quest to figure out where he wants to coach next season, but the man that many consider the finest coach in hockey right now won't be in charge of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015-16, according to Pens GM Jim Rutherford.
Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the Pens wouldn't pursue Babcock over the weekend, which coincided with what Team President/CEO David Morehouse said shortly after the Pens season ended that Rutherford and coach Mike Johnston would be back for 2015-16.
For more ways than one, it's an obvious conclusion to make. There's the evidence that Johnston did a pretty good job with the Pens until about mid-March when injuries decimated the team- and the fact that Pittsburgh lost four 2-1 games in the playoffs, despite having all those defensemen out and playing the league's best regular season team. Johnston, by any measure, deserves another season to see if his strategies and tactics can carry the Pens deep into the playoffs.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, Pittsburgh isn't a great fit for Babcock- who can cherry-pick his team. He's got the old reliable standby of Detroit, a solid club with great and stable owners. He could go to a young organization on the rise like Edmonton or Buffalo and not even have pressure to win in the playoffs for years as he builds up a potential Stanley Cup contender. Or he could sell out to the highest bidder and probably make over $5 million a year in a place like Toronto. All great options.
Pittsburgh's only drawing card for Babcock is that the coach is quite fond of Sidney Crosby, who he knows, loves and respects from the duo's successful time together in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. However one player alone isn't a good enough draw for a coach with more more attractive (and lucrative) opportunities available.
So the Pens will stick with Johnston, as they probably should have anyways.