Babych became the first NHL player to wear No. 44 regularly; in fact, the Edmonton-born defenseman wore it for every one of his 1,195 NHL games with five teams during a career that lasted 19 seasons.
The Winnipeg Jets, a former World Hockey Association team coming off their first season in the League, selected Babych with the No. 2 pick of the 1980 NHL Draft after a 22-goal, 82-point season with Portland of the Western Hockey League. It came two years after his older brother, forward Wayne Babych, was taken by the St. Louis Blues with the No. 3 pick of the 1978 NHL Draft.