NHL News : Mike Babcock is officially back behind the bench.

Mike Babcock is officially back behind the bench.

The controversial head coach returns.

Published on by HockeyFeed in NHL News
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Perhaps the National Hockey League's most controversial figure is set to return behind the bench.

Earlier today we reported on a rumor that former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had accepted his very first head coaching job since being unceremoniously fired by the Leafs, and now that rumor has been made official.

According to an official announcement from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Athletics program, Babcock will officially be taking over the head coaching duties for their men's hockey team effective immediately. 

"This is an exciting and historic day for Huskie Athletics, and we are thrilled that Mike wants to come back home to lead our men's hockey program," said Huskie Athletics Chief Athletics Officer Dave Hardy in the official announcement. "We are extremely fortunate that the timing lined up perfectly to create this opportunity. Mike's track record of success speaks for itself, and he will be a great addition to Huskie Athletics, to the men's hockey program, and to the local hockey community." 

This represents the first head coaching job that Babcock will take on since being unceremoniously fired by the Maple Leafs back in November of 2019 off the back of a 6 game losing streak from the Leafs. Although Babcock has not officially worked as a head coach since being fired by the Leafs, he has remained active in the coaching world, briefly working as a volunteer advisor for the University of Vermont men's hockey team. 

There's no doubt that this represents a big win for the University of Saskatchewan, especially when you consider that Babcock himself is a native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Babcock is also one of the most decorated coaches in Canadian history having achieved success as a head coach in the National Hockey League as well as internationally while representing his country. In 2008 Babcock captured the NHL's top prize when he won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings franchise and he would follow that up just two years later with a Gold Medal victory at the 2010 Winter Olympics, something that I suspect he considers to be the crowning achievement of his professional career. Even when it comes to the International Ice Hockey Federation Babcock has seen success with a Gold Medal in 1997 while coaching for Canada at the World Junior Championship and another Gold Medal in 2004 while coaching Canada's men's hockey team at the World Championship.

The Olympic Gold Medal, the World Championship Gold Medal, and the Stanley Cup victory have made Babcock the first and only member of the "Triple Gold Club," arguably making him one of the most decorated head coaches in hockey history.

Babcock of course has dealt with his fair share of controversy throughout his career as well. His departure from the Toronto Maple Leafs led to very serious allegations about his treatment of players, most notably his treatment of former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen, and I suspect that this has played a large role in Babcock remaining out of the spotlight until now. 

Given the seriousness of the accusations made by Franzen and other players, I suspect there will be a segment of the hockey community that will have some questions about whether or not Babcock should be coaching young and impressionable men.

That being said, a coaching gig in his home province is unlikely to raise too many eyebrows and will likely see him avoiding some of the tougher questions he might have faced had he chosen to return behind an NHL bench.

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Photo Credit: Kostas Lymperopoulos/CSM/Zuma