The Detroit Red Wings have granted their longtime head coach Mike Babcock the opportunity to speak to other teams, according to general manager Ken Holland. Holland announced that the permission was given at Babcock's request, but expressed that he wants his coach of 10 years to return.
And while the Leafs have long been rumoured as a potential destination for Babcock, it appears it's not going to be a bidding war that is won solely by bearing the largest wallet.
The Leafs no doubt can afford him, but with the bidding war that is likely to ensue in the coaching market, the Leafs are neither it's most competitive team nor the one with the best currently-underway rebuild.
Both of the soon-to-be owners of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are looking for coaches, and the Leafs aren't shy about it being a long, tenuous process. For a coach like Babcock, that may be a deal-breaker.
Babcock won't come cheap either, as the winning bidder would be forced into forking over a third round pick after signing a compensation letter prior to talks, a tall price to pay for a coach -- even one of Babcock's ilk.
This would lend the process even more towards a competitive team that can afford to lose a prospect for a shot at their ideal coach, and a Stanley Cup.
For a rebuilding team, it would be tough.
And if the Red Wings are willing to pay their man, which all reports indicate they are, then they can't be counted out either.
Babcock is on record saying this year's Red Wings team was the best he'd coached since the back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals appearances, and with young talent like Nyquist, Tatar, Pulkkinen, and Jurco coming into their own, the dynasty may remain more competitive than many anticipated they would as Zetterberg and Datsyuk aged.
And if not, the Wings may have the heir apparent already in their organization in highly sought after coach Jeff Blashill, the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Either way, now that Babcock's officially on the market, his name is going to continue to be linked to the Leafs one way or another.
In 12 seasons split between the Anaheim (then-Mighty) Ducks and the Wings, Babcock has a regular season record of 527-285-19-119 and a playoff record of 82-62, with three Stanley Cup Finals Appearances and one ring to his name.
According to Nick Kypreos, Babcock has already turned down a contract from the Red Wings that would make him the highest paid coach in the NHL. Joel Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawks) is currently the highest paid coach in the NHL, earning $2.75 million annually.