NHL on NBC hires Mike Babcock, cuts Mike Milbury ahead of 2020-21 season


Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock speaks to the media. (Nathan Denette/CP)

Mike Babcock is returning to the NHL but it won’t be behind the bench.

NBC Sports announced Babcock would be joining the network as a studio analyst for a select number of NHL games this season, alongside former players Ryan Callahan, Dominic Moore, Patrick Sharp and Keith Jones.

Mike Milbury, who had been an analyst for NBC Sports for more than a decade, will not be returning. Milbury was suspended from the network after a series of offensive comments he made during the playoffs towards women, injured players and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who left the playoff bubble to be with his sick daughter.

“We are grateful to Mike for all of his contributions to our coverage for 14 years, but he will not be returning to our NHL announce team. We wish him well,” NBC Sports said in a statement provided to the Associated Press.

Babcock was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in November of 2019 after the team opened the season with a 9-10-4 record. His reputation took a hit shortly after when reports about how he treated his players began to circulate, including one story where Babcock instructed then-Leafs rookie Mitch Marner to rank his teammates’ compete-levels, then shared Marner’s thoughts with the team.

“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,” Babcock texted Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in response to the Marner incident.

Since then, Babcock has mostly kept a low-profile. In September, he interviewed for the vacant head coaching job with the Washington Capitals, a role that ultimately went to Peter Laviolette.

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