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Ducks Searching for Next Coach

Burke says team began looking for Babcock's replacement last week and that previous NHL coaching experience isn't required.

July 08, 2005|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The Mighty Ducks already have started to look for a coach to replace Mike Babcock, who turned down the team's one-year contract offer Wednesday.

General Manager Brian Burke said Thursday that he began the search last week, after Babcock requested a six-day period to decide if he would accept the contract. Babcock is in talks with the Detroit Red Wings, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

Burke is believed to have asked permission from the San Jose Sharks to speak with assistant Tim Hunter. Vancouver assistant Mike Johnson is also expected to be on Burke's short list.

"I kicked into the search after Mike requested the week; I saw no reason to lose a week," Burke said. "We're putting together a short list and have requested permission to speak to a couple candidates."

Whomever Burke hires will be the Ducks' fifth coach since the 2000-01 season. The team also has had four general managers since 2001.

Burke, who is expected to be around awhile after signing a five-year contract, said that previous NHL head-coaching experience was not a requirement for a new coach.

"I don't think you should start a search by excluding anybody," Burke said. "Every coach who is in the Hockey Hall of Fame was a rookie coach once."

Burke said he did not know what team was considering Babcock, only that, "Mike said he was taking another opportunity.... I'd like to congratulate Mike Babcock, if this opportunity indeed works out.

"I have not heard from Detroit and if in fact they have gone ahead and hired Mike Babcock without the courtesy of a phone call, I would be shocked. I would regard that as a shocking breach of etiquette."

The Red Wings were not required to seek permission to talk to Babcock, as his contract expired June 30.

Burke said he was willing to offer only one year because, "It's got to be a good philosophical and psychological fit." He said to offer more years would be "like asking someone to marry you on the first date."

Babcock's representative, Bobby Brett, had asked Burke to improve the deal, requesting more money, more years and more time to make a decision.

"I said a flat 'no' both times, with a considerable amount of emphasis and profanity," Burke said.

Burke did not set a timetable for hiring a new coach but said that the process had started.

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