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Babcock to be named Olympic coach

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock answers a question during the team media availability in Detroit on Sunday June 7, 2009.

Frank Gunn

Mike Babcock will be sworn in as the coach of the 2010 Canadian Olympic men's hockey team in Montreal this week.

There has been speculation the 46-year-old Detroit Red Wings bench boss deserved to be chosen by Steve Yzerman, executive director of the Olympic team, because Babcock steered the Wings to their second Stanley Cup final in a row this season. In 2002-03, his rookie season as an NHL head coach, he led the Anaheim Ducks to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final, which they lost to the New Jersey Devils.

Hockey Canada and everyone involved has been tight-lipped about the appointment, but a source confirmed last night that Yzerman will announce Babcock as the coach most likely on Thursday in a press conference to take place a few blocks from Montreal's McGill University, where Babcock played defence.

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Babcock has a career coaching record of 282-139-71 in the NHL and already has 58 postseason victories. He has coached Detroit to four consecutive seasons of 50 or more victories, won a Stanley Cup, guided Canada to the 2004 world championship and the 1997 world junior title.

The only part of Yzerman's announcement that will be a surprise will be the assistant coaches. Babcock's assistants are expected to come from a group that includes Ken Hitchcock (Columbus Blue Jackets), Claude Julien (Boston Bruins), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo Sabres), Barry Trotz (Nashville Predators) and Randy Carlyle (Ducks).

The Hockey Canada decision comes almost three months after Brian Burke, general manager of the U.S. Olympic team, named Ron Wilson to be the Americans' head coach. Wilson coaches the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs.

Interestingly, while that Burke and Wilson run the Toronto Maple Leafs and the U.S. team, Yzerman and Babcock are two key members of Detroit's front office and lead Canada. Red Wings GM Ken Holland also sits on Yzerman's management staff with the Canadian Olympic team.

Babcock was born in Manitouwadge, Ont., and grew up in Saskatoon.

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