I absolutely think there's a possibility that Babcock could leave next year or sometime in the next 2-3 years, and I do think there's something to the fact that he stated that he doesn't want to sign an extension right now. I don't think that means that he's absolutely leaving next year though at all. I don't think there's anything to the rumors going around about Babcock being set on leaving next year. I don't think he has any plans to leave at this moment, and I certainly don't think he knows where he'd go. Even if Babcock did have some semblance of a real plan, I don't think anyone writing these articles is informed at all about such matters, and are just speculating because Babcock is generally considered to be the top coach in the game right now, the Wings have been struggling, and he's not interested in signing an extension at the moment. I'd bet that what Babcock's said about not wanting to sign an extension is where any legitimate information about the matter ends.
That said, again, I think there's something to that. If I were speculating, I'd say it's a message to the Wings management more than anything. Holland wants Babcock to say and has said that he wants to talk about an extension with him this summer. Babcock is the one who at least at this point has nixed the idea and said he'd do one-year deals after his current contract is up. So if Babcock leaves anytime soon, it's going to be his decision.
If Holland has expressed to the media that he wants to talk to Babcock this summer about an extension, and Babcock has expressed to the press that he's not interested in doing so and wants to do one-year deals after this contract, to me, that's Babcock sending a message to Ken Holland and the rest of the Wings management. I don't think he's saying for sure that he's going to leave, and honestly, I don't think he wants to leave. But I don't think there's any way to interpret what's been said other than to think that Babcock wants to make sure the Wings know that he has options and he's willing to keep the door open on them.
Babcock came to Detroit because it's one of the top organizations in all of sports and we've built a tradition in the last twenty years of being successful and always going for it. But things have been in a steady decline over the last few years and Holland thus far really hasn't done anything to suggest he's willing and able to turn it around. If things continue as they have, I don't expect that Babcock will want to stick around, and I do think that's the message he is sending to management. If this was an internally planned transition to bring Blashill up to take over for Babcock, why would Holland be talking about trying to sign Babs to an extension? Why would Babcock be saying he's not interested in that and will sign one-year deals after this contract expires next summer? Sure, it could all just be a smokescreen, but I really doubt it.
I think Babcock is sending a message that he needs to see a real change and more of an effort from management to put a solid roster together. He knows he can get a job anywhere, and he knows that Holland knows that. And as much as the Wings don't want to lose Blashill, I don't think anyone in management wants to see Babcock move to a team like the Penguins, though I say that for example only, not because I buy the rumors at all. Babcock has had to coach a team of Griffins players into the playoffs now two years in a row, while guys taking up decent chunks of cap space sit in the press box either injured or simply not good enough to crack the lineup. All the while, he has to hear Holland talk about how everyone is too expensive and none of the deals made sense. Like everyone else, do you really think Babcock isn't wondering what part of Holland's strategy the last four years then makes sense? He may truly have a good relationship with Holland, but he's no fool at the end of the day.
Cap space has gone unused. Cap space has been wasted on guys that can't contribute and sit in the press box or play in Grand Rapids. Your so-called stars can't be relied upon to produce. The defense has withered to the point where the pairings read more like a joke someone would have made three years ago. We would've all laughed, because even though the idea of losing Rafalski, Stuart and Lidstrom sounded terrible, it could never get that bad. Welcome to 2014, where yesterday's doom and gloom jokes about the defense have taken shape in reality, but we still were signing more forwards in August last year even though we already had too many.
If Holland turns it around and gives Babcock a roster that features a real defense and a slightly refreshed offense, and it becomes clear once again that we're going to actually take the idea of being a top team seriously, I fully expect Babcock to stay, even if it means losing Blashill. If we see a repeat of the last four summers and another roster full of holes on defense, I think it's very likely Babcock will leave. Maybe he really will take a non-NHL job; who knows? As said, I doubt Babcock really even knows, though I do know for certain that Art Regner nor anyone else writing about hockey on blogs or in papers has absolutely any idea at all.
But given what's been said by Holland and Babcock, I think it's clear that Babs is at a point where he's willing to throw his weight around and send the message that he is not content to continue to polish turd rosters just enough to hopefully eek into the playoffs and lose.
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