Mike Babcock says he’s ‘retired’ from coaching: ‘It’s time to move on’


Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

Mike Babcock has no plans to return to a hockey bench, saying in a radio interview Friday that he’s “retired” from coaching.

“We always said we were going to retire at 60 and I’m 59, so basically that’s what it is,” Babcock said in an interview on AM 680 CKOM in Saskatoon. “Now, if things change, I guess they change, but surely that’s not our plan.

“Believe me, we’ve talked to lots of people about opportunities and enjoyed those conversations. In the end, we feel this is best for us and best for our family and so that’s what we’re doing.”

Babcock resigned from his volunteer head coaching position with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team on Thursday after only one year in the post, something he said was always the plan. He last coached in the NHL in 2019-20 when he was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs only 23 games into the season.

Babcock was one of the most successful coaches of his era, which included leading the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2008 and twice winning Olympic gold with Canada. However, after his dismissal by the Maple Leafs accusations of bullying and verbal abuse were levied against Babcock by some of his former players, including Johan Franzen and Chris Chelios. An incident involving then-rookie Mitch Marner also brought to light some of Babcock’s questionable coaching tactics.

Babcock had apologized to Marner before the incident was made public, but the veteran coach’s job prospects have been few and far between ever since. He was a candidate for the Washington Capitals vacancy before Peter Laviolette was hired in September of 2020 and did a brief stint as an in-studio analyst with NBC Sports. He then joined the Huskies in the spring of 2021 and served as a mentor to then-associate coach Brandin Cote, who now takes over as head coach.

Saskatchewan posted a 14-9 record under Babcock and lost to the Calgary Dinos in the Canada West quarterfinals.

Now that that chapter of his career has come to an end, Babcock says he will enjoy hunting, skiing and spending time with his family.

“For us, it’s time to move on,” he said.

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