It’s decision week for Mike Babcock, as one of the NHL’s most unusual situations in quite some time nears its end.
Babcock returned from the ice hockey world championships in Prague Sunday on the same plane as Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, and now what remains to be seen is whether the two will continue their terrific working relationship.
During his interview Friday night with my pal Darren Dreger on TSN, the star coach certainly sounded like a guy who was more and more comfortable with staying on board in Detroit -- although perhaps having Holland sitting beside him for the interview also helped give that impression.
Babcock, via text message Sunday after landing in Detroit, reiterated his desire to decide his future by Wednesday.
Other than that, Babcock declined to get into any other details.
What we do know via other sources at this point is that he spoke with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs before heading over to Prague and is scheduled to chat with the San Jose Sharks over the next few days.
Ansar Khan of MLive.com also reported Sunday that the St. Louis Blues had asked permission to talk to Babcock and that perhaps that conversation had already taken place in Prague. Which is interesting given that the Blues still haven’t made any announcement regarding current coach Ken Hitchcock.
I feel like it’s Detroit and Buffalo as the front-runners. Babcock would get a healthy raise from the Red Wings but certainly less than what he could get in Buffalo or Toronto. With the Sabres, there’s a relationship with GM Tim Murray that dates back to their Anaheim Ducks days together. For the Sabres, it’s plain to see they are a team on the rise with a very bright future.
But the Red Wings’ future is bright as well, as Babcock saw himself by seeing top prospect Dylan Larkin on the bronze-medal winning Team USA in Prague.
Either way, it’s near decision time for Babcock. Does he stay or does he go?
"We plan to meet here over the next day or two," Holland told ESPN.com Monday. "While he was in Prague, I know he talked to some people. I would anticipate by the end of this week Mike will make a decision. Beyond that, I don’t know much more, because it’s not me making the decision.
"At the very least, though, by the end of week I think he’ll be in a position to make a decision."