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Thursday, July 7, 2005
Lewis' deal expired June 30

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have new owners and a new general manager. Now they're looking for a new coach.

There's got to be a philosophical and psychological fit. For me to commit to more than a year would be to propose to a girl on the first date.
GM Brian Burke, on offering coach Mike Babcock only a one-year deal

Mike Babcock rejected an offer to remain with the Mighty Ducks and could be headed to Detroit to coach the Red Wings.

"I received a call from Mike Babcock last night, and he told me he was not going to accept the offer of a one-year extension that I had tendered to him and that he was taking another opportunity," Ducks general manager Brian Burke said Thursday on a conference call.

Babcock's original deal with the Ducks, a two-year contract with a one-year extension, expired June 30.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland planned a news conference for Friday morning to talk about Detroit's coaching vacancy but declined to discuss specifics when contacted Thursday night.

"I'll talk to you tomorrow," he said.

Burke, hired by new owners Henry and Susan Samueli last month, met with Babcock shortly after taking the job and made the one-year offer last week, giving Babcock a week to decide.

Burke said the team was asked if they could "sweeten the pot" or extend the deadline and firmly declined.

"I said no. I was not going to add a penny, extend the deadline a day," Burke said. "There was no negotiation here."

The 42-year-old Babcock led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup finals two years ago during his first season in Anaheim. They didn't make the playoffs in 2003-04, and last season was canceled because of the NHL lockout.

The Ducks were 69-76-19 in two years under Babcock.

Babcock, speaking at a charity golf tournament in Saskatchewan, told The Canadian Press that Bobby Brett, his adviser, has assured him he will coach in the NHL.

Red Wings coach Dave Lewis' contract also expired June 30.

Messages seeking comment were left Thursday with Lewis and Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

The Red Wings won three Stanley Cups in six seasons under Scotty Bowman before Lewis took over. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Ducks in 2003 and in the second round the following year.

Burke said the coaching search has already started, and there is no timeline for a decision.

"We'll take our time and do a thorough job," he said. "We're putting together a shortlist [of candidates]. We have requested permission to interview a couple candidates who are employed by other teams."

Burke said previous head coaching experience wasn't a requirement.

"I don't think you should start a search by excluding anybody," he said.

What is required is someone committed to up-tempo hockey and contributing to the community.

"In my system, you are either moving the puck north and south or you are in aggressive pursuit of the puck," Burke said. "I am in the entertainment business, I make no bones about it."

Burke also said he didn't believe making an offer of more than one year to Babcock would have been the right thing to do.

"I respect Mike. I've met him," Burke said. "There's got to be a philosophical and psychological fit. For me to commit to more than a year would be to propose to a girl on the first date."

Burke said he hasn't been contacted by Detroit, and although Babcock's contract had expired, he would regard Babcock's hiring by the Red Wings as a "shocking breach of etiquette."