Mike Babcock has made his decision, and, surprisingly the winner is...the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Wait, HOW much money is he going to get?
Sources say Mike Babcock has been hired by the Maple Leafs. Mammoth 8 yr contract believed to be around $50 million.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 20, 2015
And it's believed to be front-loaded to give him about $24 million in the first three seasons of the deal. Dreger reported earlier in the day that Detroit's "final offer" was $4 million dollars for 5 years, or $20 million total.
By contrast, industry sources have said that Penguins head coach Mike Johnston (in his first NHL job) has an annual salary of close to (but under) $1 million dollars. Fired Pens head coach Dan Bylsma is known to make in about the $2.5 million per year range, the final year of which Pittsburgh will have to pay out in 2015-16 should Bylsma not get another coaching job.
So yeah, Babcock is blowing away the field of coaches with this deal. He decided to leave Detroit- where he could have stayed- and also other teams he flirted with like Buffalo, San Jose and St. Louis.
Pittsburgh was never a serious or really even informal contender for Babcock, despite a year's worth of rumors- and possibly wishful thinking.
It will be interesting to see if the uber-competitive Babcock can turn around a Maple Leafs franchise that has floundered recently, and famously not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.
Also, consider that in the past year Toronto has fired bad head coach Randy Carlyle, very bad GM Dave Nonis, shed the $5.25 million cap hit of the disappointing David Clarkson and now added what many believe to be the finest coach in the league in Babcock. Quite the turnaround up there. You can't turn an aircraft carrier around in a puddle, and the organization still has a ways to go before they're serious contenders, but it seems like they are definitely going to be a team to keep an eye on in the seasons to come.
Also -- while many believe Detroit's AHL coach Jeff Blashill has been groomed to replace Babcock, what about Bylsma for the NHL job? Bylsma is a Michigan native and would presumably be a good fit for a team like Detroit. The fallout of Babcock leaving Detroit could result in an opportunity for the Pens fired coach.