For the Maple Leafs, it must be one of elation. For the Detroit Red Wings, it’s probably a bit more somber given that the organization just lost its highly-successful head coach of 10 years. For the Buffalo Sabres, the team that reportedly was in a bidding war with Toronto until the very end, there is apparently anger.
Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, who reported Tuesday that the Sabres were confident they would land Babcock, had an update on the feelings around the organization after the head coach signed his reported eight-year, $50 million deal with a divisional rival.
Sabres livid for way Babcock handled past few days. Sabres so confident he was coming that they were prepared for Monday news conference.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) May 20, 2015
Re previous tweet: Another Sabres source tells me absolutely nothing was to happen Monday with Sabres and Babcock. Didn't refute the anger.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) May 20, 2015
Maybe it's just sour grapes, or maybe there's more to it. Whatever the case, it seems highly unlikely we'll know the full scope of what happened anytime soon, or ever.
It’s been a rough couple of months for the Sabres organization. After finishing the regular season with the NHL's worst record, they lost out on the top pick in the NHL Draft after losing the lottery to the Edmonton Oilers. That cost them a shot at selecting super prospect Connor McDavid first overall (they do get a great consolation prize in Jack Eichel, though).
Then to have believed Babcock was coming to Buffalo only to see that opportunity slip away in rather dramatic fashion has to feel more like a gut punch.
The Sabres are in a very similar position as the Maple Leafs in terms of what they could offer monetarily and where they’re at as an organization. Toronto looks to be on the front end of some roster restructuring, while the Sabres are on the upswing of a painful rebuilding process. Owner Terry Pegular probably would have spared no expense to acquire Babcock and if he was able to keep pace with the NHL’s richest club, there’s no questioning his commitment.
There was also a personal connection between Babcock and Sabres GM Tim Murray, as the two worked together within the Anaheim Ducks organization in the early 2000s.
Though the Sabres are still rebuilding their roster and probably will be for at least another year or two as more youngsters matriculate to the NHL lineup, the fact that Pegula has the funds to compete with any offer out there might sting a little bit more. Maybe the money offer was a little different or, for whatever reason, Babcock simply felt Toronto was better.
No matter the reason, it’s another loss for an organization that’s probably felt like it’s had enough of those over the last several seasons. There are still a lot of great coaches out there to choose from and several openings as well. The Sabres can’t sulk long as they have to move on to whoever Plan B is and go after that coach aggressively.