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Mike Babcock hired by Maple Leafs as coach

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Mike Babcock was hired Wednesday as coach by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Terms of the contract were not released, but Sportsnet and TSN reported that Babcock, who spent the past 10 seasons coaching the Detroit Red Wings, has agreed to an eight-year contract worth approximately $50 million.

He will be introduced Thursday at a press conference at Air Canada Centre.

"I think Mike Babcock is a phenomenal coach and we're really lucky to get him," Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, said in video posted by Sportsnet. "As everyone knows we weren't the only one bidding for his services."

The Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks also received permission from the Red Wings to talk to Babcock, whose contract was to expire June 30. The Sabres met with him Tuesday and were working out contract terms, according to The Associated Press.

Babcock joins president Brendan Shanahan as major hires by the Maple Leafs since a collapse late in the 2013-14 season caused them to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Leiweke credited Shanahan, who was hired in April 2014, with enticing Babcock to Toronto.

"I think today he is a great president," Leiweke said. "This is a vision he had early on. We're grateful to Detroit for giving us permission to talk to Mike. This is really Brendan. It was an outstanding effort on his behalf, an outstanding vision. Our president became a great president today, and I'm proud of him."

Shanahan played under Babcock in Detroit during the 2005-06 season.

Babcock coached Detroit to the Stanley Cup championship in 2008 and to the Cup Final in 2009, when the Red Wings lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. The Red Wings finished third in the Atlantic Division this season and lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a seven-game Eastern Conference First Round series. With a record of 458-223-105, he is the Red Wings' all-time leader in wins, and Detroit made the playoffs in each of his 10 seasons.

The Maple Leafs went 30-44-8 this season, finishing 15th in the Eastern Conference. They fired coach Randy Carlyle on Jan. 6 and named Peter Horachek as interim coach. Horachek was fired April 29.

Leiweke, who joined the organization in June 2013, views Babcock as the latest piece to the puzzle in rebuilding a franchise that is seeking its first Stanley Cup title since 1967 and has missed the playoffs in nine of the past 10 seasons.

"When we were aggressive at going out and trying to convince [Shanahan] to come here and take this on, we knew what he was capable of. And we were very comfortable he was going to turn it into a great organization," Leiweke said. "I think this is a step toward that vision and that goal. I can't say enough good things about Brendan and the way he handled this and obviously everyone here should be pretty excited about getting Mike to come here as our coach."

In 12 seasons as coach of the Anaheim Ducks and Red Wings, Babcock is 527-285-119 with 19 ties.

The Maple Leafs will have to give the Red Wings a third-round pick in the NHL Draft within the next three years as compensation for hiring Babcock.

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