Mike Babcock was hired as coach of the University of Saskatchewan men’s hockey team Saturday.
Babcock, who was fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 20, 2019, agreed to coach Saskatchewan on a full-time volunteer basis for the next two seasons. He will replace Dave Adolph, who will officially retire May 1 as the winningest coach in Canadian university men’s hockey history with 488 regular-season victories, including 456 during 27 seasons with Saskatchewan.
Babcock, who grew up in Saskatoon, where the university is located, played one season as a defenseman for Saskatchewan in 1981-82 before transferring to McGill University following a season with Kelowna in the Western Hockey League.
Saskatchewan had its 2020-21 season canceled because of the coronavirus.
“I am excited to work with Huskie athletes, back in my hometown, at the university where I had the opportunity to play under legendary coach Dave King,” Babcock said. “This is a special place for me, and I look forward to having the chance to help develop these young men.
“Saskatchewan has provided me many opportunities in my life and my career, and I am truly excited about the opportunity to give back.”
Babcock is in his first season as a hockey analyst for NBC Sports and had been a volunteer coach for the University of Vermont, helping first-year coach Todd Woodcroft, a former assistant with the Winnipeg Jets.
The 57-year-old is the eighth-winningest coach in NHL history, going 700-418-164 with 19 ties in 17 seasons with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs. He was 90-74 in 164 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including winning the Cup with Detroit in 2008.
Babcock also coached Canada to five tournament championships: the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2014 Sochi Olympics; the 2016 World Cup of Hockey; the 2004 IIHF World Championship; and the 1997 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“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,” chief athletics officer Dave Hardy said. “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 previously coached at Red Deer College from 1988-1991 and for one season at the University of Lethbridge in 1993-94, when he led it to the national championship.