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|Posted: Fri May 22nd, 2015 01:50 am||
|The Toronto Maple Leafs introduced Mike Babcock as the team's 30th head coach in team history Thursday morning.
The franchise made the deal official at a press conference.
After team president Brendan Shanahan thanked Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings, Babcock approached the podium to a roar of an ovation.
"I'm thrilled to be here ... I felt like I was 25 years old, scared to death this morning," Babcock said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Related: Reading List - Babcock faces the ultimate test in coaching Leafs
Babcock, like Shanahan, thanked the Red Wings for his time with the franchise, where he spent 10 seasons and won a Stanley Cup.
"Ten unbelievable years and an opportunity for my family to grow up in one city," said the coach. "It's the Maple Leafs. I'm proud to be here."
The Leafs newest prized possession continued to talk about what he foresees in Toronto.
"I'm looking forward to the journey. It's going to be a long one. But it's going to be a lot of fun," said Babcock. "I never came here to make the playoffs. I came here to be involved in a Cup process. I want to win.
"I have a burning desire to win, but I don't want to just make the playoffs."
"I believe this is Canada's team and we need to put Canada's team back on the map." - Mike Babcock #TMLtalk
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 21, 2015
Babcock added that the Leafs offered him a 10-year deal, but he thought that was too long, settling on eight years to take him through to 60 years old. There is no out-clause in the contract.
The 52-year-old isn't delusional about where the Maple Leafs are currently and understands that it may take some time to turn things around.
"There's pain coming," explained Babcock. "But at 52, I'm not ready to die. I'm ready to get on with it."
Babcock was a highly sought-after coach who was approached by myriad teams, with the Buffalo Sabres showing serious interest and even thinking at one point they had a deal in place. Though, Babcock disagrees.
"There was no deal," said Babcock. "Did we work on financial and term? Absolutely."
Babcock says the Sabres offer was bigger. He wanted to coach the Leafs.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) May 21, 2015
With their coach firmly in place, the Maple Leafs will now turn their focus to the NHL Entry Draft with the fourth overall pick and also continue their search for a new general manager.
Mike Babcock says he has no control over player personnel decisions. But Brendan Shanahan adds "I want his input."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 21, 2015
The process has begun in Toronto and Babcock could just be the first step, but it's certainly a big one that could shape the future of the franchise for a long time to come.
"I embrace this opportunity," Babcock said. "I came here with my eyes wide open. I've made the right decision."