DETROIT -- The new-look Detroit Red Wings will have a
Mike Babcock, who led the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to the Stanley
Cup finals two years ago, agreed to terms Thursday and will replace
Dave Lewis in a time of transition for both the NHL and the Red
For the past decade, Detroit has been a team of future Hall of
Famers with hefty paychecks. Now they will be vastly different
after the agreement reached Wednesday to end the league's lockout,
which features a salary cap with a ceiling of $39 million.
The 42-year-old Babcock will be asked to develop youthful stars
while putting a charge into the remaining veterans -- a group that
might include longtime captain Steve Yzerman and forward Brendan Shanahan.
Under the new labor agreement, which still must be ratified,
they are subject to a 24 percent cut on their existing contracts.
But further changes are almost certain on a team that expected to
have a $60 million payroll during the canceled 2004-2005 season.
Detroit is expected to look to younger players like Henrik
Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler, Jiri Fischer and Niklas
Kronwall. Veteran defensemen Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios could
be on the way out.
Babcock, 69-76-19 in two years with Anaheim, has plenty of
experience with young players. He led the Ducks and then
26-year-old goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere to the Stanley Cup
finals two years ago during his first season in Anaheim.
They didn't make the playoffs in 2003-04, and last season was
canceled because of the lockout.
Before being hired as the Ducks' coach, Babcock coached at
Cincinnati of the AHL, an affiliate of Anaheim and Detroit. He
guided the team to the playoffs both his years there and to a
franchise-high 41 wins and 95 points in 2000-01.
"We're very happy to have the opportunity to sign a coach with
the resume that Mike has. We love his passion and the intensity he
brings to the game," assistant general manager Jim Nill said.
"He's very flexible. He has the background to work with younger
players, and he has the skill to work with older players. He brings
the total package."
Holland announced last week that Lewis would not be back as
coach. In Lewis' two seasons, the Red Wings were successful in the
regular season, but were eliminated in the first round of the
playoffs by Babcock's Mighty Ducks in 2003 and by Calgary in the
second round the following year.
Lewis signed a one-year contract in June of last year, only a
few months before the NHL lockout began. Lewis' contract with
Detroit and Babcock's contract with Anaheim expired on June 30.