Friedman: Mike Babcock ‘more likely’ to stay

Glenn Healy and Darren Pang debate the finer things in hockey, including the Mike Babcock situation in Detroit and the merit of drafting small goalies in the NHL.

Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman has changed his opinion on the future of Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, who will be a free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign a contract extension with the Wings.

“Beginning of the year, I felt pretty certain he was not going to come back. I’m wavering on that. I think it’s much more likely he stays,” Friedman told Brady & Walker Friday morning on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “There’s no question the feeling in Detroit has been more optimistic that he will stay.”

LISTEN: Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman gives his take on coaches Randy Carlyle and Mike Babcock

A big reason for that is the success of Red Wings this season. Babcock thrives off winning, and his team has done just that, going 17-6-6 and jockeying with the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division.

"If you look at [the team's] young players, it's improving," Friedman said. "Mike Babcock wants to win. I think he wants to be in a situation where he knows he has a chance to win."

When a report broke Wednesday night that Babcock's re-signing was imminent, Friedman reached out to a number of contacts.

Someone from the Red Wings called him back.

"He said to me, 'We haven't made a new offer, and I kinda don't know where this is coming from.' Then I got calls saying there was no offer given. I was a bit surprised," Friedman said.

Babcock vehemently denied the report when he met with reporters Thursday.

"My belief is that the Red Wings made a contract offer before the season, probably for about four or five years, no doubt in the $3 million range [per season]," Friedman said. "It's kinda been in Babcock's hands."