The Sabres feel they’ve done everything they can to lure Mike Babcock to Buffalo. They hope it’s enough.
They’ll find out soon.
Buffalo is in position to land the future Hockey Hall of Famer, but his family still has the final say. A league source said Monday the Sabres had the best chance of making him leave Detroit, but Babcock has said since Day One that his family is in charge. They’re comfortable in Michigan, so the final hours of his coaching countdown could be determined by in-house chats.
First, the 52-year-old was scheduled to meet with one more suitor and his longtime boss.
Babcock initiated an interview with San Jose, according to CSN Bay Area, and was set to talk with the Sharks about their opening. Coincidentally, the job became available because San Jose parted with Babcock’s former assistant, Todd McLellan.
Babcock is planning to talk with Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland on Tuesday, the coach told the Detroit Free Press. The two flew home from Europe together following Sunday’s world championships, so it stands to reason there’s little new ground to cover. It could be a chat to finalize a contract extension or a bon voyage.
The Red Wings have offered Babcock a deal worth $3.25 million per season, according to MLive.com, a boost from his current salary of $2 million. The Sabres’ offer is believed to be much higher. Both deals would make him the highest-paid coach in the NHL.
Babcock told ESPN.com he remains committed to deciding his future by Wednesday. The coach, who remains under contract with Detroit, had been given permission to interview with the Sabres, Toronto, St. Louis and San Jose, according to MLive.com.
Babcock toured the Sabres’ facilities with team owner Terry Pegula on May 10. He enjoyed his visit to Buffalo, a league source said Monday, and was impressed by the people he met and the things he saw.
The Sabres will soon learn whether their wooing was enough to make him leave Detroit after 10 years. They’re confident they’ve done everything they could, a team source said. The Sabres owe Detroit a third-round pick if they sign the coach.
If they lose out on Babcock, remaining candidates include Ottawa minor-league coach Luke Richardson, former Pittsburgh bench boss Dan Bylsma and ex-New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer. The Sabres also need to hire a minor-league coach for Rochester.
McLellan is off the market after agreeing to coach the Edmonton Oilers. Philadelphia has also filled its coaching vacancy by hiring Dave Hakstol from the University of North Dakota.
Several reports had the Flyers interested in Babcock, but they never interviewed him.
“I hope, in this case, we have another Mike Babcock,” Flyers owner Ed Snider told reporters of Hakstol, who led North Dakota to the NCAA Tournament in all 11 of his seasons.