What started as a simple idea to raise money for a local charity has developed into a weekend celebrating one of Saskatchewan's most famous residents.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock sounded slightly embarrassed during a phone interview with NHL.com Friday, but he's getting his day in Saskatoon on Saturday for adding the Olympic gold to an already-glowing resume that includes the 2008 Stanley Cup championship and the 2004 World Championship.
Babcock is the first coach to be added to the International Ice Hockey Federation's Triple Gold Club.
Proceeds raised from Mike Babcock Day in Saskatoon will go to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. One of Babcock's family friends, DeeDee Maltman, has been the brains behind the operation, the coach said.
"They call it that (Mike Babcock Day), but it's to raise money for the Saskatchewan children's hospital that's being built. That's what this is all about," Babcock said. "It started out as golf tournament and dinner and now it's grown into something out of control."
The event starts Friday with visits to various hospitals and a dinner with sponsors in the evening. Saturday's festivities include a breakfast buffet and panel discussion, a coaches corner luncheon, an on-ice skills session with 23 of the best bantam players in Saskatchewan, a public skate and a gala reception and auction at night.
One of the items reportedly up for bid is a chance to fly on the Red Wings' private plane to two road games.
"I know they have raised a ton of money already in corporate sponsorship and they sold 300 tickets for the breakfast at $100 a pop and 600 tickets for the gala at $200 a pop. That's great," Babcock said. "For me, a guy that's been coming back to Saskatchewan every year since I have been in the United States, it's great to have an opportunity to give back. This is a much bigger function.
"When we won the gold, the lady (Maltman) asked me if I could do it. She's a machine. She did it all. It's unbelievable," he added. "She's committed to this and good for her. Obviously it's a big deal and we want to do everything we can to raise money to help the hospital. It sounds like it's going to be a good day and a half."
Mike Babcock (Getty Images)
Joining Babcock for the festivities are several NHL notables, including Scotty Bowman, who Babcock said asked to come. Bowman reportedly backed out on a trip to the British Open to join Babcock in Saskatoon.
"I was real honored that Scotty would come," Babcock said. "I felt real good about that."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan, Babcock's former assistant in Detroit, and Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr as well as Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn and forward Colby Armstrong are also involved, as are Blues broadcaster Kelly Chase and Sharks broadcaster Drew Remenda.
All are Saskatchewan natives.
"I found all the NHLers and everybody associated with Mike were truly gracious," Maltman told The StarPhoenix of Saskatoon. "They all wanted to help. It's some kind of hockey brotherhood -- when one of them is going to be honored, everybody comes forward."
Babcock said Maltman's dedication is going to make the weekend a success.
"What she said to me, 'If you don't lend your name, we're not going to raise the money,' " Babcock said. "I said to her last summer that we'd do something next summer together. I try to do one or two things a summer to raise money for the Saskatchewan area, and this one has a chance to be big. With the notoriety we have been fortunate enough to get, the positive side is you can raise some money to make a difference."