The University of Saskatchewan announced on Saturday that it has hired Mike Babcock to be the new head coach of its hockey program.
Babcock played one season at the school during the 1981-82 season, before moving on to the Western Hockey League and eventually McGill University.
He will be replacing long-time coach Dave Adolph who recently retired after 27 seasons as the program’s coach.
“This is an exciting and historic day for Huskie Athletics, and we are thrilled that Mike wants to come back home to lead our men’s hockey program,” said Dave Hardy, the Chief Athletic Officer of the school. “We are extremely fortunate that the timing lined up perfectly to create this opportunity. Mike’s track record of success speaks for itself, and he will be a great addition to Huskie Athletics, to the men’s hockey program, and to the local hockey community.”
Babcock’s last head coaching job came with the Toronto Maple Leafs starting with the 2015-16 season and ending 23 games into the 2019-20 season when he was replaced by Sheldon Keefe.
Shortly after he was replaced Babcock came under fire for his treatment of forward Mitch Marner early in his Maple Leafs career. It was then that Babcock made Marner compile a list of the team’s hardest and least hardest working players, and then shared the results with the players mentioned on the list.
Once the allegations surfaced, Babcock responded by saying “I was trying to focus on work ethic with Mitch — focusing on role models — ended up not being a good idea. I apologized at (the) time.”
He had been mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate for a couple of teams during this offseason’s coaching cycle, including the Washington Capitals job that eventually went to Peter Laviolette. Babcock was reportedly a finalist for the opening.
Most recently he appeared on the air as an analyst for NBC sports.
Along with the Maple Leafs, Babcock also spent 10 seasons behind the bench for the Detroit Red Wings and two as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks. During his NHL coaching career he has won exactly 700 regular season games and coached in three Stanley Cup Finals, winning one during the 2007-08 season with the Red Wings.