Babcock’s big-money deal good news for fellow NHL coaches

Mike Babcock’s coaching contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs has suddenly and dramatically altered the financial outlook for his NHL counterparts. Babcock’s eight-year deal worth US$50 million not only makes him the highest-paid coach in the NHL, but sets an unprecedented ceiling for coaches’ salaries in the league.

Mike Babcock’s coaching contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs has suddenly and dramatically altered the financial outlook for his NHL counterparts.

Babcock’s eight-year deal worth US$50 million not only makes him the highest-paid coach in the NHL, but sets an unprecedented ceiling for coaches’ salaries in the league.

It’s a rising tide that floats all boats for his brethren.

“I’m sure he got lots of thank-you notes from his peers,” player agent J.P. Barry told The Canadian Press on Thursday when the Leafs held a news conference to introduce Babcock.

“I think it absolutely changes the landscape for NHL coaches. I’d have to say it’s completely shifted.”

With an average of $6.25 million per year, Babcock’s deal moves the needle on pay that was low compared to coaches in other North American pro sports, and salaries less than many NHL players.

A Forbes.com article two years ago pegged the annual average salary of an NFL head coach at $7 million. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers was in that range until he signed an extension in 2014 worth a reported $10 million annually.

“There is no question a new bar has been set for the salary of a top head coach in the NHL,” agent Allan Walsh said in an email.

“A new arms race among head coaches has commenced. The starting gun has gone off.”

Babcock indicated to reporters in Toronto that he did homework on coaches’ pay in other leagues to prepare for the negotiating table, but he didn’t even have to make that case in the end.

“I did a lot of planning to prepare to do that,” the new Leafs coach said. “I never used any of my material.”

Babcock’s unique situation created the new money benchmark.

A man considered in the top percentile of the league’s 30 head coaches put himself on the open market at the same time teams under heavy pressure to improve quickly — Toronto, Buffalo and San Jose — had vacancies.

Given the job insecurity of an NHL head coach, not many are willing to test the open market.

“Historically in the industry, coaches and general managers sit down to negotiate an extension a year before the contract is over,” said Francois Giguere, who negotiated a multi-year extension for Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley in December.

“My experience has been that getting that security is important for coaches. My feeling is that you will not see more of a free-agent scenario.”

Giguere does believe, however, that Babcock’s financial terms put upward pressure on coaches’ salaries.

“When you look at what coaches in other professional sports make when you compare to coaches in the NHL, the coaches in the NHL are making less,” he said from Denver.

“I think there is going to be some type of correction. How much of a correction? That’s the big unknown.”

Babcock’s resume stands out in a small sample size, given there are only 30 head coaches.

The Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs every year in the decade he was behind the bench and won the Stanley Cup in 2008.

He coached Canada to Olympic gold medals in both 2010 and 2014. He’s the only coach to win Olympic gold, the Stanley Cup and a world championship.

With 750 career wins and a pair of Stanley Cups, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville has coaching status comparable to Babcock’s. The Blackhawks coach is paid a reported base salary of $2.75 million on a contract that has two years remaining on it.

“We’ll see how that all plays out,” Quenneville said Thursday in Chicago.

The Edmonton Oilers named head coach Todd McLellan their new head coach Tuesday with Sportsnet reporting his annual base salary at $3 million.

Owners who pay coaches’ salaries and general managers who negotiate the contracts in the other NHL markets might not appreciate the fanfare around Babcock’s deal.

Just Posted

‘Nothing apparent:’ Dad accused in son’s meningitis death says no obvious signs

LETHBRIDGE — A father accused in his son’s death testified Monday that… Continue reading

Opera star Measha Brueggergosman recovering from double bypass surgery

CALGARY — Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman is recovering from heart surgery,… Continue reading

Who you gonna call? Alberta rattlesnake wrangler keeps serpents, citizens safe

LETHBRIDGE — One rattlesnake got caught in freshly laid tar under someone’s… Continue reading

Alberta government, Opposition swap accusations, attacks in earplug debate

EDMONTON — Alberta’s earplug debate got louder Monday as the Opposition NDP… Continue reading

‘Clients fall off:’ Calgary program helps recently released prisoners with hep C

CALGARY — Imagine adjusting to life after serving prison time, then add… Continue reading

WATCH: Hundreds run in the 5K Foam Fest in Red Deer

The annual event took place at Heritage Ranch on Saturday

Alberta government, Opposition swap accusations, attacks in earplug debate

EDMONTON — Alberta’s earplug debate got louder Monday as the Opposition NDP… Continue reading

‘Clients fall off:’ Calgary program helps recently released prisoners with hep C

CALGARY — Imagine adjusting to life after serving prison time, then add… Continue reading

Opera star Measha Brueggergosman recovering from double bypass surgery

CALGARY — Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman is recovering from heart surgery,… Continue reading

Who you gonna call? Alberta rattlesnake wrangler keeps serpents, citizens safe

LETHBRIDGE — One rattlesnake got caught in freshly laid tar under someone’s… Continue reading

‘Nothing apparent:’ Dad accused in son’s meningitis death says no obvious signs

LETHBRIDGE — A father accused in his son’s death testified Monday that… Continue reading

Second Banff grizzly dies after being struck by vehicle: Parks Canada

Second Banff grizzly dies after being struck by vehicle: Parks Canada BANFF… Continue reading

Canada and U.S. agree to expand preclearance options for travellers, goods

OTTAWA — A new agreement between Canada and the United States will… Continue reading

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down Canada’s solitary confinement law

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s top court has upheld a lower court ruling… Continue reading

Most Read