A day after resigning as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, former NHL bench boss Mike Babcock has announced that he plans on retiring.
In an appearance on 650 CKAM in Saskatchewan on Friday, Babcock made it clear that he does not plan on returning to coach in the NHL, or anywhere, for that matter.
“No, that’s sure not the plan,” he said. “My wife and I have discussed this a ton, obviously. … We always said we were going to retire at 60, and I’m 59. Basically, that’s what it is.
“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, so that’s what we’re doing.”
Babcock spent only one season at the helm of the University of Saskatchewan’s men’s hockey team, guiding the Huskies to a 14-9 record before falling to the Calgary Dinos in a best-of-three series in the Canada West quarter-finals.
Babcock joined the Huskies on a volunteer basis in February 2021.
“Since I got kicked off the treadmill in Toronto, (my wife and I) have really enjoyed life,” he said. “It was a spectacular experience to come back to Saskatoon, obviously to be around my family. … In saying that, for us, it’s time to move on.”
Prior to his venture in U Sports, the Manitouwadge, Ontario native spent 17 seasons as a head coach in the NHL, splitting 1,301 games between the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs. Babcock owns a 700-418-19-164 career record, with 14 playoff appearances and a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.
He last coached in the NHL with Toronto, where he was fired 23 games into the 2019-2020 season.
On the international stage, Babcock has coached Canada to two Olympic gold medals, World Juniors gold, World Championship gold and a World Cup of Hockey title. He is the first and only coach to be a member of the triple gold club, which includes those who have won Olympic and World Championship gold, as well as a Stanley Cup.
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Raptors banking on internal growth after quiet off-season – TSN
TORONTO – The Raptors considered it, they really did.
Fresh off a 48-win season in which their club exceeded all reasonable expectations, Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster went into the summer preaching patience. Their stated goal was to keep the team’s young core intact and let it use the off-season to continue growing.
However, plans can change quickly in the NBA. When a future Hall of Fame talent and all-time great player like Kevin Durant suddenly becomes available, you’re forced to re-evaluate. And that’s what the Raptors did, at least to some degree.
Internally, they debated what they would be willing to give up for Durant, and, just as importantly, what they wouldn’t. They kicked the tires on Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Deandre Ayton and others. They contemplated whether it was the right time to expedite the process and go all in. That shouldn’t surprise anyone – this is a front office that likes to keep its options open – but neither should the end result.
After sending shockwaves around the league with his trade request in June, Durant will open the season back in Brooklyn. Phoenix matched the offer sheet Ayton signed with Indiana, so he remains a member of the Suns. The rebuilding Jazz sent Gobert and Mitchell to Minnesota and Cleveland, respectively, for massive hauls of prospects and draft picks.
Meanwhile, the Raptors opted to stay the course. In part, it was another vote of confidence in the long-term vision – what they’re building and the pieces they already have in place. Mostly, though, it tells us where they see themselves on the contention spectrum. This is not a team that’s ready to push its chips in.
“We always look at those things,” said Ujiri, who kicked off the team’s media day festivities on the eve of training camp. “Working with Bobby and Nick [Nurse], you have to open your minds to different things. But we also have a plan with this team. We’re focused on that and to grow this team.
“We try to be as active as we can, but we’re also focused on who we are and where we want to go as a basketball team. Sports [are] about winning. We want to win here. Sometimes it’s good to be patient, too, and wait for the right moment.”
If everything goes according to plan, that moment will come sooner or later. This group is about to get expensive. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are both eligible for nine-figure extensions this fall. VanVleet can opt out of his current deal after this season, as can Gary Trent Jr. Siakam would hit free agency after the 2023-24 campaign, the same summer O.G. Anunoby can opt out and Scottie Barnes will be eligible for his rookie-scale contract extension.
Meaning, if the Raptors want to keep their core together past this season it will likely require them to pay into the luxury tax, and eventually deep into the luxury tax. It’s hard to see ownership signing off on that unless a few of these guys take substantial leaps forward and this team becomes a legitimate title contender.
Failing that, they’ll bide their time and wait for the right opportunity to consolidate some of those pieces into a star. They’ve already parlayed that model into a championship, and with a full complement of first-round picks at their disposal, as well as good young players on team-friendly contracts, they’re well positioned to try it again.
The problem with going “all in” is you can only do it once. You get one shot at it, so you better be sure you’re all in at the right time and for the right player because once you start stripping your organization of its assets, you’re more or less locked in for the foreseeable future. There are cautionary tales throughout the league, and the Timberwolves and Cavaliers are hoping not to join them after surrendering a half-decade’s worth of draft capital to land Gobert and Mitchell.
It’s a gamble, to be sure. The cost to entice Brooklyn into moving Durant would have been even more significant, likely starting at Barnes, Anunoby and/or Trent and something close to the maximum haul of unprotected picks. At that point, do you even have enough left to compete for championships? And then there’s the opportunity cost of making the big move. When the next disgruntled star inevitably forces their way onto the trade market, you no longer have the means to enter the bidding.
What we can surmise from the Raptors’ quiet off-season is that they weren’t enamoured with any of the players on the market, not at their price tags anyway. Perhaps they’ve got their sights set on someone else?
One of the situations they’re closely monitoring, according to a league source, is in Oklahoma City, where Toronto-born star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may eventually tire of leading a rebuild. The Thunder have gone 46-108 over the past two years and don’t seem close to turning the corner, especially after losing second-overall pick Chet Holmgren to an off-season foot injury.
The 24-year-old point guard spent the summer playing for Nurse with the Canadian senior men’s national team, so there is familiarity on both sides. Gilgeous-Alexander is under contract with OKC through 2026-27 and has given no indication that he would prefer to play elsewhere, but again, things can change quickly in this crazy league. If that or any other enticing opportunity presents itself, Ujiri and Webster – flexible as ever – will be ready.
The difference between the Raptors and many of the teams that have mortgaged their futures to make these often short-sighted, all-in-type of moves in recent years is they have the luxury of being patient. They’re still only three years removed from winning a championship. This front office, led by Ujiri, is not lacking for job security, autonomy or goodwill amongst the fan base or ownership group. If they’re showing more restraint than the Nets, who haven’t made it past the second round in 20 years, or the Wolves, who haven’t made it past the first round in just as long, it’s because they’ve earned that right.
Notably, they also feel really good about where they are now. Continuity isn’t a sexy thing in professional sports. It doesn’t sell tickets or make headlines, but more often than not it wins games.
The Raptors are returning 13 players from their 2021-22 roster, accounting for 92 per cent of last season’s minutes, which leads the league. Their top eight guys, and 11 of their top 12, in minutes played from a year ago are back, and most of them spent significant stretches of the off-season training and playing together at newly hired assistant coach Rico Hines’ famous summer runs in Los Angeles. That should pay immediate dividends.
“I think there’s some connectivity happening here and that it’s a good sign,” Nurse said. “I kind of sensed a little urgency, I sensed some togetherness, and I sensed some real intensity this summer, and I think those are three really good words going into a training camp. I think the team’s shaping the identity that showed up a little bit late last year. They know who they are and are looking to expand it. It was a good summer. They did a lot of good work this summer and we should see the results here of the summer very soon.”
Last year at this time, they were getting set to open training camp with one of the NBA’s youngest clubs. For the first time in a decade, Kyle Lowry wasn’t around to lead the way. They were integrating rookies and newcomers, and even their young vets had to get accustomed to different roles, both on and off the court. And it showed early in the season.
Through the first 22 games, the Raptors went 9-13 and ranked 24th on the defensive end, where they looked especially shaky. Then, as the season went on and with more experience together in Nurse’s complex defensive system, they started to find themselves.
Barnes seemed to develop by the game, eventually overtaking early favourite Evan Mobley in the Rookie of the Year race. Chris Boucher found his niche as an energy player off the bench and Precious Achiuwa blossomed post all-star break. From December onwards, they finished the campaign with a record of 39-21 and were the league’s seventh-best defensive team, tied with Boston for second-best over the final 22 games. Without much roster turnover, they’re hoping they can pick up where they left off.
“There should be less explaining and confusion with certain things that we do,” said VanVleet. “Coach asks for new things every year, so obviously that’ll be an adjustment, but for the most part we should be pretty familiar with the things that we’re going to do.”
But unlike last year, they won’t catch anybody off guard. They’re no longer playing with house money and with expectations come pressure. The East hasn’t gotten any easier either.
The Celtics added Malcolm Brogdon to a group that just made a run to the Finals. Even with 34-year-old interim head coach Joe Mazzulla taking over for the suspended Ime Udoka, they still figure to be at the top of the conference, along with Milwaukee, Miami and Philadelphia. The Nets are a wildcard but as long as they feature Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, they should be interesting, if nothing else. With Mitchell joining Mobley and all-stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen in Cleveland, the Cavs – who the Raptors host on opening night – are poised to take another step. The Hawks acquired Dejounte Murray and the Knicks signed Jalen Brunson, while Chicago, Charlotte and Washington remain in the mix.
Realistically, Toronto figures to be in the middle of the East playoff picture, just below that top tier but, barring some bad injury luck, they should be good enough to avoid the play-in tournament. They don’t feature a prized off-season addition, like some of these other clubs, which is fine. But if they’re going to take another step forward this season, or even keep pace in a loaded conference, they’re banking on internal growth.
In that sense, this was a crucial summer for the franchise, even without a flashy acquisition or high draft pick to show for it. Otto Porter Jr. will bring championship experience and some much-needed shooting off the bench. Second-rounder Christian Koloko gives them the 7-foot shot-blocking centre they’ve lacked for years, though he figures to spend the bulk of his rookie year getting up to speed in the G League. They’re good, solid additions for a team that had some depth issues last season. But the fate of the 2022-23 Raptors is in the hands of this core. How much better have those guys gotten since we last saw them?
What does Barnes look like after his first NBA off-season? Can Siakam and VanVleet build off their career seasons and withstand the grind of another long campaign, despite their massive workloads? How does the often-injured Anunoby respond to off-season trade rumours? Will Trent take his game to another level in a contract year and did Achiuwa bottle his late-season magic?
“We expect to win, and it doesn’t matter what phase we are at as a team,” Ujiri said. Are we good enough to win a championship? I don’t know that we are there yet. But are we good enough to grow and make a jump? I think so. So, we expect to win. We have patience with the team, but we want to grow. We know we have young players on our team, and it takes time to put it together and it’s a challenge to make that jump. But winning is why we play and winning is what we want to do here.”
'It's exciting times': Mangiapane pairing with Kadri is likely potential for Flames – Sportsnet.ca
CALGARY — It’s a pairing Flames fans plan on getting used to.
Two feisty, corner-dwellers with finish — a duo that could potentially lead the league in sparking post-whistle scrums.
After nursing a lower body “tweak” by skating on his own the first four days of camp, Mangiapane finally joined his teammates Monday when he was promptly positioned alongside the team’s prized free agent signing of the summer.
Funny, as what could be the start of something fantastically frustrating for the rest of the league could theoretically have started months earlier, when the two happened to be participating in the same summertime, 3-on-3 skating sessions in the Toronto-area.
“No, he was the captain of his gym there and he didn’t pick me,” deadpanned Mangiapane when asked if they’d ever teamed up before or after Kadri signed his seven-year, $49 million deal in Calgary.
“I’m still a little ticked off.”
Once he gets to know how dogged and determined Mangiapane is on the puck, you can bet Kadri will be glad his new left-hand man is by his side.
Fact is, had Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk returned, not only would there have been no cap room for a signing of Kadri’s magnitude, there’s also a good chance Mangiapane’s three-year, $17.4 million contract extension couldn’t have been squeezed in.
“That definitely is a possibility there — if those guys stayed, maybe I wouldn’t be here,” said the 26-year-old winger.
“Maybe they would have to create space and all that. Obviously, they had to deal with Johnny and Chucky there and had to go through all that. I was secondary to that, but my plan was always to stay in Calgary.
“I’m happy to be here and to be part of this team and hopefully we can do good things this year.”
That certainly seems like a possibility for the man who scored 35 goals last season the hard way, without a single minute on the top line or top power play.
Surely, after the departure of Tkachuk and Gaudreau, Mangiapane will be saddled with a heavier workload and a far more offensive-minded centre than Mikael Backlund.
Expectations will rise, as will the temperature of most games, with him and Kadri pestering the opposition.
“He obviously plays with that grit, and will get in there and muck it up and cause havoc,” said the 5-foot-10 Mangiapane, who plays like he’s a foot taller.
“He’s also a skilled player who scores goals, and he’s smart away from the puck. He’s kind of the whole package.”
The perfect man to help Mangiapane with a career progression that landed him 25th in league goal scoring, following an MVP performance at the 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championship.
“Ya, I think he could work well with a lot of guys on our team,” said Mangiapane, a left-shooting winger, who will almost certainly play behind fellow lefty Jonathan Huberdeau on the depth chart.
“I think he’s that type of player, when you play with him he makes others around him better.”
But, as Mangiapne and other Flames players are careful to point out in Darryl Sutter’s world, “you don’t want to read too much into (the lines).”
Huberdeau scored in the team’s first pre-season game Sunday while playing alongside Day 1 campmates, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli.
While there is always the chance Mangiapane could move to the right side of the top unit, the most obvious fit would seem to be on his natural wing on the second line with Kadri — and whoever grabs the most sought-after opening in camp this year on the right side.
It would appear that gig is Sonny Milano’s to lose, although plenty will ride on the PTOs’ showing over the next handful of pre-season competitions.
Goals are expected to be at much more of a premium in Calgary this winter, as Gaudreau and Tkachuk accounted for 82 of the team’s goals last season.
Huberdeau (30 goals) and Kadri (28) should do well to help make up for that, but it goes without saying there’s pressure on Mangiapane to post another career season.
Sutter has said as much with his insistence the key to success will be on players aged 23-28 in his lineup to take that next step.
Mangiapane’s $5.8 million cap hit also ups expectations for the sixth-round draft pick who is the team’s third-highest paid skater this season.
“I think I’m planning to play the same way I have been, that’s my mentality going into camp, keep growing as a player and as an individual and helping the team wherever I can,” said the fan favourite.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the lines, but it’s exciting times. We’ll see what happens.
“I’m happy he’s on our team now.”
Sept. 26 – NHL.com
The 18-year-old left wing had one shot on goal in 16:59 of ice time.
“It was great and I’m sure it will only be better and better, like when the season starts (Oct. 12), but it was great,” Slafkovsky said. “It was faster for sure, but those are little things. I will get used to it.
“I won a couple of pucks, I lost a couple of pucks. I can be better. I know myself, I can play better, I can skate faster and shoot more.”
It was the first preseason game for each team.
Tomas Tatar and Graeme Clarke scored for the Devils. Mackenzie Blackwood started and made 15 saves on 16 shots for the Devils. Nico Daws came on midway through the second period and made five saves.
Cole Caufield scored for the Canadiens. Jake Allen made 18 saves in 29:18, and Cayden Primeau made 11 saves on 13 shots in relief.
Caufield scored on the power play at 12:32 of the first period to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.
Tatar tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 16:07 of the second period.
Clarke scored at 14:03 of the third period for the 2-1 final.
New Jersey center Nico Hischier left the game after the first period due to cramping. Hischier, who is Devils captain, had one shot on goal in 6:24 of ice time.
Panthers 4, Predators 3 (OT): Aleksander Barkov scored with one second left in overtime to give the Florida Panthers a 4-3 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville in the preseason opener for each team.
Barkov’s shot from the left circle on the rush deflected in.
Paul Maurice made his debut as Florida coach in the first of two split-squad games between the teams. Nashville won the second game 4-0.
Ryan Lomberg, Eetu Luostarinen and Kai Schwindt scored, and Aaron Ekblad and Santtu Kinnunen each had two assists for the Panthers. Barkov had an assist, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 10 saves on 12 shots in 31:45 before being replaced by Mack Guzda, who made 12 saves.
Juuso Parssinen had a goal and an assist for the Predators. Connor Ingram made 10 saves on 12 shots in 31:17 before being replaced by Devin Cooley, who made 18 saves.
Nino Niederreiter had an assist in his Predators debut after signing a two-year, $8 million contract ($4 million average annual value) on July 21.
Ryan Johansen tied it 3-3 for Nashville with 5:25 left in the third period on a deflection.
Luostarinen gave Florida a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal with 43 seconds left in the first period when he scored on a 2-on-1.
Schwindt made it 2-0 at 3:41 of the second period before Parssinen cut it to 2-1 at 4:42. Roland McKeown tied it 2-2 at 11:45.
Lomberg put the Panthers ahead 3-2 at 2:11 of the third on a rebound at the left side of the net.
Rangers 4, Islanders 1: Igor Shesterkin stopped all 14 shots he faced playing midway into the second period, helping the New York Rangers to a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden in New York.
It was the first preseason game for each team.
K’Andre Miller scored a shorthanded goal, and Brennan Othmann had two assists for the Rangers. Dylan Garand made nine saves in relief of Shesterkin, who played 31:41 after winning the Vezina Trophy last season voted as the best goalie in the NHL.
Robin Salo scored for the Islanders, who lost in Lane Lambert’s first game as coach. Semyon Varlamov allowed four goals on 20 shots in 31:15 before being replaced by Jakub Skarek, who made 15 saves.
Jimmy Vesey gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead on the power play at 10:51 of the first period with a sharp-angled shot over Varlamov’s left shoulder from the right side. The 29-year-old forward, who played his first three NHL seasons (2016-19) with the Rangers, is in training camp on a professional tryout contract.
Chris Kreider made it 2-0 on a rebound at 15:48.
Miller extended the lead to 3-0 with four seconds left in the period when scored off a feed from Othmann, who chased down a loose puck in the corner after an Islanders turnover.
Zac Jones pushed it to 4-0 with a one-timer at 11:41 of the second period.
Salo scored at 16:10 for the 4-1 final.
Blues 4, Stars 0: Josh Leivo had two goals and an assist for the St. Louis Blues in a 4-0 win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Logan Brown had a goal and an assist for St. Louis, which has won its first two preseason games. Thomas Greiss made 10 saves in the first period, and Colten Ellis made 23 saves to complete the shutout.
Anton Khudobin made 11 saves on 13 shots in the first, and Jake Oettinger made 13 saves on 15 shots for Dallas in its preseason opener.
Brown scored his third goal in two games on a rebound at 13:13 of the first to make it 1-0.
Leivo made it 2-0 at 19:04, then scored again at 11:54 of the second period for a 3-0 Blues lead.
William Bitten scored at 13:01 of the third period for the 4-0 final.
Predators 4, Panthers 0: Forward Matthew Tkachuk was held without a point in his Florida Panthers debut, a 4-0 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
It was the second of two split-squad games between the teams. Visiting Florida won the first game 4-3 in overtime.
Tkachuk, who had one shot on goal in 18:13, was acquired July 22 in the trade that sent forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames.
Ryan McDonagh had an assist in his Predators debut, and Matt Duchene and Mattias Ekholm each had two assists. Kevin Lankinen stopped all 13 shots he faced before being replaced midway through the second period by Yaroslav Askarov (12 saves).
Spencer Knight started in goal for the Panthers and made 19 saves on 20 shots in 29:56. Alex Lyon made 15 saves in relief.
Filip Forsberg put Nashville up 1-0 at 14:23 of the first period. It was his first game since signing an eight-year, $68 million contract ($8.5 million average annual value) on July 11.
Cody Glass pushed it to 2-0 at 8:01 of the third period from the right hash marks off a pass from Duchene for a power-play goal.
Colton Sissons made it 3-0 at 13:30 when he finished a breakaway with a backhand, and Tanner Jeannot tipped a McDonagh shot at 17:12 for the 4-0 final.
McDonagh was traded to Nashville by the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 3.
Kraken 3, Oilers 0: Matty Beniers, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, scored for the Seattle Kraken in their 3-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.
Beniers, who had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 NHL games last season, gave the Kraken a 1-0 lead at 2:12 of the second period.
Martin Jones stopped all 13 shots he faced in 32:15, and Joey Daccord made 15 saves in relief for Seattle in its first preseason game.
Ryan Donato made it 2-0 at 14:15 of the second, and Morgan Geekie scored shorthanded 43 seconds into the third period for the 3-0 final.
Kings 2, Golden Knights 1 (OT): Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist in his debut with the Los Angeles Kings, a 2-1 overtime win against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Fiala, a forward, was acquired by the Kings in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on June 29 and signed a seven-year, $55.125 million contract ($7.875 million average annual value) the next day.
He tied it 1-1 for Los Angeles at 14:07 of the second period, then assisted on Adrian Kempe‘s power-play goal at 1:48 of overtime for the 2-1 final.
Cal Petersen stopped 10 of 11 shots in the first period for the Kings, and Pheonix Copley stopped all 23 shots he faced in relief.
Jack Eichel scored, and Phil Kessel had an assist for Vegas. Logan Thompson stopped all nine shots he faced in 30:13, and Adin Hill made seven saves in relief.
Eichel gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead at 7:10 of the first.
NHL.com independent correspondent Sean Farrell contributed to this report
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