Spurned in their attempts to sign Mike Babcock, the Buffalo Sabres are continuing their search for a coach by interviewing everyone in North America that shares a last name with the former Red Wings boss.
"We'll find the right Babcock for us," general manager Tim Murray told The Buffalo News. "It's just a matter of time. We'll do our due diligence and find a Babcock that best fits our team."
The team has already received permission to speak with 47 Babcocks from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Ontario, and have calls out to 30 more Babcocks extending down the East Coast. A search for Canadian Babcocks in Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan will begin next week, according to Murray, and West Coast Babcocks should start filtering in by early July.
"We have a Babcock plan and we're sticking with it," Murray said. "We'll know who the Babcock is when we find him or her."
Mike Babcock - the one who is the former Detroit coach, Stanley Cup winner and gold medalist - signed an 8-year, $50 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs this week, ending a 10-year run with the Red Wings. The move to Toronto came as a surprise as early reports had Babcock choosing between Detroit and Buffalo. But Murray insists that he's not bitter about being left at the alter by a coach who possibly used his team as a negotiating ploy to get a bigger payday from a division rival.
"This isn't personal," he said. "Just because we're looking for our own Babcock doesn't mean we hold any ill willtowards Mike Babcock. And just because we'd prefer a coach in his early 50's with reddish hair, a strong chin and a hard working, soft-spoken attitude but who also has the last name Babcock, it doesn't mean we're hung up on the guy."
The other Babcocks brought in to interview with the Sabres are relishing the opportunity to coach in the NHL, even if the vast majority of them have no previous coaching experience.
"Sometimes it's great to be a Babcock," said Roy Babcock, who runs a PVC outlet in Sault St. Marie, Ontario. "One day, I'm hauling pipes to a job site, the next day, the Sabres say they want me to coach them. It's a Babcock's dream."
"They offered all of us Babcocks a tour of the arena and the locker rooms and stuff," said 11-year old Chayse Babcock, who came with his family including his parents, grandparents and six brothers and sisters from Sudbury, Ontario. "My sister Hannah says she wants to be the first girl to coach in the NHL, but I'm here to see if I can steal some jerseys and sell them on ebay. Sabres suck. Go Leafs Go."
"I think I'm ready for the challenge," said Horace Babcock of Warwick, NY. "I mean, how hard could coaching in the NHL be? Half these guys don't even look like they know what the hell they're doing anyway.
"Just being a Babcock probably makes me more qualified than most of them."
This is not real. The Sabres are wistfully interviewing coaches with last names other than Babcock while writing his name all over their Trapper Keepers.