Wings’ Babcock, Holland yet to negotiate deal

Mike Babcock is the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Mike Babcock sounds as if he is no rush to ink a contract extension with the Detroit Red Wings.

The only head coach with membership to the Triple Gold Club, Babcock says he is comfortable entering the final season of his deal with the Wings without an extension but that he’s certain the topic will come up between he and general manager Ken Holland before the puck drops next month.

“Kenny and I haven’t talked about that at all. We’re both in summer mode,” Babcock told hosts Greg Brady and Andrew Walker on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Monday morning. “We haven’t got into it. We will. I imagine we’ll bump into each other.”

Babcock mentioned that his youngest daughter will be finished school when his contract expires with Detroit. As he and his wife become empty-nesters, there will be one less thing tying him to Michigan. However, Babcock made clear that nothing is more important to him than winning.

“Winning really matters. We talk about that here each and every day,” he said. “That’s what we’re about; that’s what we’ve been about.”

Babcock told the Detroit Free Press in July that he would negotiate a new deal before his 10th season behind Detroit’s bench or wait until the season is over. He had no interest in haggling mid-season.

With veterans Henrik Zetterberg (back) and Pavel Datsyuk (knees) healthy and back in the fold, Babcock described his forward group Monday as overstocked.

“With the two big guys, this is as the healthiest they’ve been in a number of years.” he said. “We think we can go real deep with our forwards. Our back end — we’d like to be better on the back. We’re going to give some kids an opportunity.”

LISTEN NOW: Red Wings coach Mike Babcock talks contract, Gustav Nyquist, Dan Cleary, Stephen Weiss

Babcock said that although Detroit has a reputation for being flush with veteran performers, younger players can steal those roster spots if they play better.

In the 2013 off-season, the Wings made a splash signing free-agent centre Stephen Weiss, but injury prevented the acquisition from playing more than 26 games in 2013-14.

“Weisser was hurt the whole time. No different than [the Maple Leafs’ David] Clarkson,” Babcock said. “Weiss was hurt from the get-go. Didn’t say anything. Tried to play his way through it, found out he couldn’t.

“It’s a big training camp for him,” Babcock continued. “You’ve basically been out of hockey for two years. Now you’ve got to earn your way back. We’re going to give him every opportunity to do that.”

This summer, Detroit surprised many by re-signing 35-year-old winger Dan Cleary, after the veteran scored just four goals in 52 contests.

“We think Dan has been a good part of our team in the past. We think he has a chance again if he’s healthy,” Babcock explained. “With the [$1.5-million, one-year] contract we signed him to, we’ve hedged our bet that he can help us.

“He understands he wasn’t good enough last year. What we try to do here is, we don’t confuse the player and the person. If the player isn’t good enough, no matter how much we like the person, he isn’t going to play.”

[polldaddy poll=8293594]

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.