There were a couple notable developments regarding the Sharks’ coaching search on Wednesday morning.
First, the club is officially out on Mike Babcock, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. The most sought after free agent coach in recent memory will reportedly head to Toronto.
Despite Babcock initiating discussions with the Sharks, the marriage seemed unlikely. In a rare public appearance on May 8, Sharks owner Hasso Plattner said that “cost in general is an issue” regarding the team, and reports are that Babcock’s deal in Toronto is worth as much as $50 million over eight years.
Further, Babcock and former Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, his former assistant in Detroit, remain tight. McLellan and general manager Doug Wilson appeared to be not on the same page for much of the 2014-15 season.
Another possibility has emerged, however. Former Capitals head coach and Devils co-coach Adam Oates will speak with Wilson, according to a report on TSN.
Less than two years ago, Oates and Wilson engaged in a bit of a public spat, when Oates – then coach of the Capitals - criticized the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl for his between-the-legs goal on Oct. 8 vs. the Rangers late in a 9-2 blowout. “Don’t disrespect the league,” were among Oates’ comments directed towards Hertl.
Wilson responded, telling CSNCalifornia.com: “I think [Oates] should worry about coaching his team, and not worry about being a caretaker of the game. I would not allow our coaches to make comments about other team’s players.”
In Washington, Oates led the Capitals to the playoffs in the shortened 2013 season (losing in the first round), but missed out in 2013-14. Barry Trotz replaced him this season, and Washington returned to the playoffs before losing in seven games in the second round to the Rangers.
Oates was hired by the Devils in late December as co-coach with Scott Stevens after New Jersey fired Peter DeBoer, who is also in the mix for the Sharks’ job. New Jersey finished in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division (32-36-14, 78 points), with a generally aging and weak roster.