On Mother’s Day, Mike Babcock met with the big daddy of Buffalo sports.
Sabres (and Bills) owner Terry Pegula hosted Babcock on Sunday, wooing the Detroit coach with a tour of the arena and HarborCenter. According to the Associated Press, Pegula and Babcock boarded a plane together Sunday night but left without comment.
Babcock, who is the biggest free agent in hockey, is free to talk and negotiate with other teams for the next few weeks. Detroit, which has Babcock under contract until June 30, would get a third-round pick from any team that hires the coach. Buffalo has four such picks in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Babcock has said he will visit every city that shows interest in his services, so Buffalo was likely one of several stops. Babcock was scheduled to head to Czech Republic to watch the world championships and meet with teams over there. The tournament concludes Sunday, so the coach will have about a week to visit other cities when he returns.
Philadelphia is interested in the coach, and General Manager Ron Hextall is reportedly planning to skip the worlds. That would set up a trip to Philly for Babcock at some point.
In other news from the weekend:
*The Buffalo News has started a five-part series on every player in the Sabres’ organization, detailing who’s here, who’s coming and when they’ll get here. Sunday’s story featured the centers. Monday’s story was about the left wingers.
*Anaheim eliminated Calgary with a 4-1 series win Sunday. The Ducks will meet Chicago in the Western Conference final.
*The Rangers have forced Game Seven in their series with Washington.
*Tampa Bay holds a 3-2 series lead over Montreal.
*With Calgary, Detroit and Minnesota eliminated, the Sabres’ second first-round draft pick will be No. 21 in the June draft. They also will pick second overall.
*Jack Eichel scored his first goal of the world championships as the United States advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals.