There's a significant systems upgrade awaiting the winner of the NHL's first ever coach lottery.
The team winning the Mike Babcock Lottery will be given the first chance at wooing the man believed to be the league's best coach before he hits free agency. The current Detroit Red Wings coach is expected to be highly-sought after by struggling teams looking to bring his 520-plus wins and Stanley Cup experience to their bench.
And being the first in the door could make a difference.
"It's not every year that a motivator and tactician like Mike Babcock becomes available," said Don Korrs, director of the Central Coach Scouting Service. "He can immediately make any piece of garbage team into a Cup contender, no matter now many scrubs, scumbags, pylons, washouts and rookies there are on the roster."
So far, four teams - the Maple Leafs, Sabres, Flyers and, most recently the Sharks - have already parted ways with their coaches in anticipation for the Babcock Lottery. More teams, including the Oilers and Bruins, are expected to part ways with their coaches over the next few days as they weigh their chances of getting a private audience with Babcock.
"Even if you have a coach - hell, even if you're playing in the playoffs right now - chances are your coach isn't as good as Mike Babcock," said Korrs. "If you win this lottery and land Babcock, and throw that other dork over the side and don't think twice."
The lottery will be televised on NBCSN, Sportsnet, RDS and Saskatchewan Public Access stations.
Babcock, who also coached the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, is renowned for consistently guiding the Red Wings to the playoffs despite injuries to stars and for intimidating weaker humans with just an intense stare and a jutting of his granite square jaw.
"Babcock can change a player's career with just a look," said former Red Wings goalie and current Detroit TV analyst Chris Osgood. "Dan Cleary was a nobody before getting to Detroit. Coach Babcock picked him up at the airport when he arrived and didn't say a word the entire drive to the arena. By the time they got there, Cleary was already getting votes for the Selke Trophy."
"That's what a Mike Babcock can mean to a franchise."
Balls numbered 1 to 30 will be put into a lottery machine that will select four balls to provide a four-number combination. The team with the winning combination will be given a top secret phone number at which they can contact Babcock and arrange a one-time only meeting with the coach at an undisclosed location. After the meeting, all participants will immediately enter the FBI's Witness Protection Program until Babcock has agreed to terms with his chosen team.
A similar system was used recently for the NHL Draft Lottery and resulted in the Edmonton Oilers being awarded their 48th consecutive first overall pick.
Lottery or not, there's no guarantee Babcock leaves Detroit, where he has been ensconced since 2005. But as the saying goes, hey, you never know.
"It's just another way of looking for the right coach," said Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish. "It's a chance I hope we get. I just want to know whether or not I need to fire up my Skype again."
This is not real. There will be no Mike Babcock Lottery. If you want a gold card with Babcock's head on it, you'll have to make it yourself.