Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock will coach the University of Saskatchewan team on a volunteer basis, the school announced.
Babcock, 57, is from Saskatoon, where the school is located. He played one season at Saskatchewan in 1981-82.
“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,” said Dave Hardy, the school’s chief athletics officer, in a news release on Saturday. “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 agreed to volunteer his services for two seasons. He will replace Dave Adolph, who will retire on May 1 as the winningest coach in Canadian university history with 488 regular-season victories.
Saskatchewan did not play in 2020-21 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.”
The Maple Leafs fired Babcock in November 2019 after the team got off to a 9-10-4 start. He was in his fifth season the Maple Leafs, posting a 173-133-45 regular-season record and an 8-12 mark in three postseason appearances.
More recently, he has worked as a hockey analyst for NBC Sports and had been a volunteer on the staff of coach Todd Woodcroft, who is in his first season coaching college hockey at Vermont.
In all, Babcock spent 17 seasons as an NHL head coach, posting a 700-418-164 with 19 ties with Anaheim, Detroit and Toronto. He had a playoff record of 90-74 and led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2008. He has No. 8 on the all-time wins list among NHL coaches.
Babcock also led Canadian teams to five championships: the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, 2014 Sochi Olympics, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the 2004 IIHF World Championship and the 1997 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Babcock also coached at Red Deer College from 1988-91 and led the University of Lethbridge to the Canadian national championship in 1993-94.
–Field Level Media