DETROIT – Friday’s 4-3 shootout win over Washington was a big boost for the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference standings as they try to carve out a playoff spot for the 23rd consecutive season.
But the win was also significant for Mike Babcock on a personal level. The 50-year-old Saskatoon native became just the third coach in franchise history to guide the Red Wings to 400 regular-season victories.
“Obviously I got my four-hundredth before,” said Babcock, who is coaching his ninth season with the Red Wings. “My four-hundredth with Detroit means I’ve been here a while and I’ve had good players. Let’s be honest, this last little while I haven’t exactly been mowing them down, so mowed ‘em down for a long time, and it’s been a bit of a grind here lately.”
Still, Babcock only trails legendary coaches Jack Adams (413) and Scotty Bowman (410) in franchise wins. On April 9, in Pittsburgh, Babcock is scheduled to coach his 702nd game behind the Red Wings’ bench, which will move him ahead of Bowman with only Adams (964) and Sid Abel (811) left to catch.
Babcock also resides among the league’s best playoff coaches, having compiled a 78-53 all-time record, which is a .595 winning percentage. Only Bowman (223), Al Arbour (123), Dick Irvin (100), Mike Keenen (96), Pat Quinn (94), Glen Sather (89), Joel Quenneville (88), and Toe Blake (82) have more playoff wins.
Currently, Babcock’s record with the Red Wings stands at 400-189-87. He has a 469-251-19-101 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time record, and his .630 winning percentage is fourth best among active coaches who have more than one season in the league, trailing Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma (.677), Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau (.666) and San Jose’s Todd McLellan (.653).
Prior to him coming to Detroit for the start of the 2005-06 season, Babcock coached two seasons in Anaheim, where he led the Mighty Ducks to the Western Conference championship in 2003.
During the 2011-12 season, Babcock became the third-fastest coach in NHL history to reach 400 career wins, reaching the milestone in his 699th game as an NHL head coach. Only Bowman (690 games) and Sather (694) reached it sooner.
This month in Sochi, Russia, Babcock will return to the international stage, where he hopes to become the only coach in Team Canada’s history to lead the men’s ice hockey team to back to back Olympic gold medals. He’s already the only coach who’s a member of the prestigious Triple Gold Club, having led teams to titles in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Olympics and World Championships.
As a side note, last Friday’s game was the Wings’ 3,000th home game played in Detroit since a group of investors purchased the British Columbia-based Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League in 1926. Since December 1979, the Red Wings have played 1,324 of those games at Joe Louis Arena, where the home club holds a 760-392-119-53 record.
Next Saturday in Tampa Bay, the Wings will become the last Original Six franchise to play in their 6,000th all-time game.
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