Reaction from those in the hockey world about Mike Babcock’s decision to sign a lucrative deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs continues to pour in.
Scotty Bowman, a nine-time Stanley Cup champion as a head coach in the National Hockey League, his final Cup coming with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, offered his take on Babcock opting to coach in Toronto instead of Detroit and Buffalo.
“I wasn’t surprised Mike left Detroit,” Bowman told the Edmonton Journal. “The offers were high in Buffalo (and Toronto). I don’t know if Detroit wanted to go that high.
“They knew it would be tough to keep him because it had gone on for so long.
“There’s the lure of Toronto and Canada; it’s the biggest market, the wealthiest team.”
Bowman has never coached the Leafs, but won five Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, another historic franchise, in the 1970s.
No other coach in NHL history has accrued as many wins as Bowman, who recently spoke about the bidding wars for his services toward the end of his time in Montreal.
The Maple Leafs, who had just been swept by Bowman’s Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, were among his suitors.
Toronto owner Harold Ballard offered Bowman the job of general manager, dangling a contract that included escalating playoff bonuses, a company car and an undisclosed raise on his Montreal salary. The Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals also made pitches.
Bowman said there were many considerations that went into his eventual decision to accept a double role as Buffalo’s head coach and general manager. Money was definitely one. He was earning about $90,000 at the time in Montreal.
“I doubled my contract (in Buffalo),” he said.