Only 45, Mike Babcock makes his second straight appearance behind the Western Conference All-Star bench already in possession of a list of coaching accomplishments many of his peers never will match. In fact, no other coach in NHL history has recorded 50 victories in each of his first three seasons with a club, as Babcock has since taking over Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06.
Babcock last spring guided the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup championship, the franchise's 11th and his first. It was his second trip to the Final in just five seasons as an NHL head coach -- as a rookie bench boss, he led upstart Anaheim to Game 7 of the 2003 Final vs. New Jersey. He has coached Detroit to two Presidents' Trophies (best overall record) in his three full seasons with the club while compiling a glittering .721 points percentage (189-63-33 record) through the games of Jan. 7.
Last season, in addition to being named a finalist for the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL Coach of the Year, he was voted by fellow NHL coaches the Sporting News' 2008 NHL Coach of the Year. The 30 victories the Red Wings earned through 41 games last season not only earned Babcock the nod as Western Conference All-Star head coach, they were the most wins ever recorded by any NHL team at the midpoint of an 82-game season.
Since entering the NHL in 2002-03, Babcock has coached 67 playoff games, 15 more than any other coach. He has won 43 postseason games, also 15 more than his closest competitor. Babcock has achieved that kind of success by demanding that every player on his roster, including the superstars, meet his standards of commitment and work ethic.
"When you don't make people accountable, it leads to a superstar mentality where not everyone on the team is important," Babcock said.
Before taking over in Anaheim, Babcock had successful runs in the AHL (Cincinnati Mighty Ducks) and the WHL (Spokane Chiefs), where he twice was named Coach of the Year. Babcock won that same award in his lone season of coaching Canadian University hockey (Lethbridge in 1993-94).
On the international stage, he has coached Canada to gold medals at both the World Junior Championships (1997) and World Championships (2004). A father of three and passionate supporter of the fight against pediatric cancer, he serves as spokesman for the Jeffrey Thomas Hayden Foundation and hosts a child battling the disease at each Red Wings home game.