With his original deal with the Detroit Red Wings
on the verge of expiration, Mike Babcock said during the Stanley Cup Final that he wasn't going anywhere.
He wasn't kidding.
Fresh off his first championship, the coach signed a new three-year contract extension with the Red Wings on Wednesday, adding to what has been a whirlwind month as Detroit won its fourth Stanley Cup in 11 seasons on June 4.
With his daughter Allie three years away from her senior year of high school, Babcock felt it made sense to have that coincide with the length of his new contract.
"A three-year deal works perfect for me," said Babcock, who has guided the Wings to a record of 162-56-28 in his first three seasons. "I'm real comfortable with the people I work with. I like living here. For me, this place has been fantastic. I love coming to work."
For the second time in his three seasons in Detroit, the Red Wings won the Presidents' Trophy after accumulating the most points during the regular season. While they came up short in the two previous postseasons, Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said an extension was in place with the Jack Adams
Award candidate prior to the start of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Obviously, we've had a tremendous two-year run," Holland said. "Mike's got a tremendous amount of passion and a tremendous work ethic. He loves the game. I think he's found that fine line between really pushing our players and at the same time having that relationship where he can talk to our players.
"I think Mike's comfortable with me and I'm comfortable with Mike. It's about relationships. We shook hands on a deal prior to the start of the playoffs."
Babcock leads all NHL coaches in postseason wins (43) since 2003, when he guided the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to the Stanley Cup Final. He also is the third coach in history to win a Stanley Cup and University Cup, the Canadian college championship.
Babcock said he knew for quite some time that he would be back in Detroit next season.
While the deal was in place for months, Babcock wanted to focus on the Stanley Cup Playoffs – where his team never faced elimination.
"We talked about it all year long … you knew this was going to work out," Babcock said. "We believe that in the three years since the (work stoppage), we've rebuilt our team. At the same time, we've won a ton of games. And we don't think we're going away."
With the core of the Wings returning next season, there's no reason not to believe they can't make a strong push for a repeat. That being said, Babcock is aware of the grind and understands that the smiles may not be ear-to-ear five months from now.
"Anytime you win a Stanley Cup, it's all rosy," Babcock said. "But come November, it probably won't be all rosy. That's just the way it is. It's a process, but I believe in the process here. When the people work hard, it makes it a lot easier to be successful long-term. We just want to win."
Detroit captured its fourth Stanley Cup in 11 seasons after falling in the Western Conference Finals to Anaheim in 2007. While another exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs would have been an extreme disappointment, Holland assured the media and Red Wings fans Wednesday that Babcock would have been behind the Detroit bench in 2008-09 regardless of this year's outcome.
"Mike's really got strong feelings about the way things should be done," Holland said. "We're all on the same wavelength. It's about a comfort level. We would have been here if we had lost to Nashville (in the first round)."
Instead, though, the Red Wings went 16-6 in the postseason and enjoyed a Stanley Cup championship parade through downtown Detroit last week. It went just the way Babcock had dreamed it would when he first became Detroit's coach three years ago.
"I was beyond thrilled when I got the opportunity to coach the Red Wings," Babcock said. "I knew I was going to be coaching a good team and I knew we had a chance. To coach an Original Six team was very, very exciting. It doesn't feel any different today. It's a great fit."
Babcock had similar sentiments on the Mellon Arena ice just moments after winning his first championship seven days ago. In the end, it's the commitment of players such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Osgood, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and others that makes life so enjoyable these days.
"I can't tell you how special it is to coach this team and this group of athletes," Babcock said last Wednesday night. "We have so much leadership. We have a great, young group. We have a committed team. Over the last three years since the (salary) cap was established, we've had the best team in hockey. I believe that."