Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced Friday that Dave Lewis would not return as Detroit’s head coach for the expected 2005-06 season. While no replacement was named, it appears highly likely that the Red Wings will hire former Anaheim head coach Mike Babcock, who turned down an offer from the Mighty Ducks for a one-year deal on Thursday.
Lewis has been behind the Detroit bench since 1987, first as an assistant under Jacques Demers, Bryan Murray and Scotty Bowman, then as head coach. He was on the staff when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002.
As an assistant, Lewis was known as the person players could talk to about coaching decisions made by Bowman. During his tenure as head coach, many questioned whether or not he was too approachable and not authoritative enough.
“I worry that Dave has made the transition as much as he could from assistant to head coach,” Holland explained. “Of course, how could Dave grab their attention? He’s been here forever. I think he did an unbelievable job of making the transition, but you can only go so far.”
While Holland confirmed that Babcock “is not hired,” he did say that he has “had conversations with Mike Babcock and his adviser over the past week” but that “[he has] other people in mind that [he has] not talked to.”
Newly-named Anaheim general manager announced that he had not been contacted by Detroit about hiring Babcock, an unnecessary move as Babcock’s contract – as well as Lewis’ – ended on June 30. He nonetheless declared that if the Red Wings hired Babcock, it would be a “shocking breach of etiquette.”