The Sabres have failed to land their man.
Mike Babcock has decided not to take a lucrative offer to coach Buffalo, according to TSN and ESPN. The Sabres didn't immediately confirm the news.
It was unclear where Babcock would end up. UPDATE: The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Babcock.
The Sabres are forced to move on to other candidates, with Ottawa minor-league coach Luke Richardson heading the list. Former NHL bench bosses Pete DeBoer and Dan Bylsma are among the experienced coaches available.
There's no denying Babcock was the first choice. The Sabres put together a comprehensive package for the future Hockey Hall of Famer, giving him a tour of their arena and HarborCenter on May 10. In addition to an offer that significantly trumped Detroit's reported extension of $3.25 million per year for four years, the Sabres tried to sell Babcock on a bright future. After finishing last in back-to-back seasons, Buffalo is expected to be on the upswing with promising prospects.
Babcock chose not to lead them.
The Sabres were heavily in the mix Tuesday and Wednesday, with the coach exchanging contact details. He was scheduled to discuss his offers with the family Tuesday night.
Babcock has a career record of 527-285-119 with 19 ties. He reached 500 victories this season, becoming the second fastest to the milestone behind Scotty Bowman.
Babcock, who has won two consecutive Olympic gold medals and has hoisted the Stanley Cup once in three tries, would have become the Sabres' most accomplished coach since Bowman in 1979. Bowman came to Buffalo after winning four straight Stanley Cups in Montreal.
Babcock has done impressive work with stars and young players. Veterans such as Niklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg continued to shine under Babcock, while one-time prospects such as Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have blossomed with the coach in charge.
The hiring of Babcock would have boosted the Sabres' hockey profile and brought hope that the team's rebuilding process would accelerate with a proven winner on the bench. Instead, the search for the franchise's 17th coach continues.