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Red Wings target May for Babcock contract: report

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Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Thursday that he would like Mike Babcock to return as coach.

"He's regarded in the industry as one of the top coaches in the game, if not the top coach," Holland told MLive.com. "He's in the prime of his career. Our hope is that Mike wants to stay, but he's positioned himself to have the option to explore."

Babcock has led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his 10 seasons in Detroit, but his contract expires June 30. Detroit has lost five of its past six playoff series and hasn't advanced past the second round since 2009.

The Red Wings would like to sign Babcock to a long-term contract before his current one expires, but Holland said there is no timetable for when Babcock will make his decision.

"There's an element of urgency, but not hours or days," Holland said. "Probably in the month of May."

Despite Detroit's postseason struggles, Holland feels that Babcock remains the perfect fit for the Red Wings moving forward.

"We got a great relationship," Holland said. "I think he's done a fabulous job with the team. We want him back. I expressed that.

"Mike has been here 10 years. He knows our players, he knows how we operate, knows the owner, knows how passionate the fan base is, knows we got a new rink coming. I think those are all advantages."

Babcock did not comment on his future with the Red Wings after they were eliminated from the playoffs with a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 on Wednesday. He instead shed some light on the series and Detroit's aging core.

"We are what we are," Babcock said. "[The Lightning] have a young team; they were bad here for long enough that they were able to rebuild and get good young players, and young players at key positions.

"Three of our best players are 34 [Niklas Kronwall], 35 [Henrik Zetterberg] and 37 [Pavel Datsyuk]. So any way you look at it, we're a team that's changed a ton of players, we're a team that's added a lot of youth to our lineup, and right now on the outside they don't pick us as a Stanley Cup contender."

Datsyuk turns 37 on July 20 and Zetterberg 35 on Oct. 9, but the Red Wings also have promising young forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. Babcock isn't convinced that they will be able to replace a player like Datsyuk.

"We have lots of good, young players, no question about it, and we've got some good ones coming," Babcock said. "But who's going to replace [Datsyuk]? I don't think [Datsyuk] is going anywhere right away, but that's what you've got to do. You've got to have big-time players up the middle and on the back to be successful. So those are questions that our organization works towards, we've been drafting good, we've been developing good, but we've been winning too much (to get high draft picks). That's the facts."

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