Mike Babcock is a very good coach.
We all know about his Stanley Cup ring with the Red Wings, two other trips to the final, and his two Olympic Gold Medals.
Babcock's success, though, goes a lot further back than that.
In 1994, Babcock coached the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns and I was a young Alberta-based TV reporter for TSN. Normally, the network didn't cover a whole lot of university sports, but this story was different. The U of L, you see, was extremely close to shutting down the hockey program because of a lack of funding. At the last second they scraped enough cash together to keep the program alive and, lo and behold, Babcock rallied the troops while leading them to a stunning national championship. That was the jumping off point for Babcock's spectacular coaching career; a path that now leads him to Toronto where he has signed an 8 year $50 million dollar deal to try and turn around the Maple Leafs.