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Blue Jackets expected to finalize Babcock hiring after June 30

Mike Babcock Mike Babcock - The Canadian Press

There is speculation that Mike Babcock will return to the NHL as the new head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger.

Dreger further says there could be a delay in making the announcement because of Babcock's existing contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun added that Babcock appears to have been Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen's choice for a long time and the plan is to finalize the hiring after his contract with the Maple Leafs ends after June 30.

Babcock was fired by the Leafs in November of 2019 with three years remaining on an eight-year, $50-million contract.

The Saskatoon, Sask., native compiled a 173-133-41 record with Toronto. He led the team to four playoff appearances but failed to make it out of the first round.

Babcock has coached 1,301 NHL games and has a 700-418-164 record with 19 ties split between the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and the Maple Leafs. His 700 wins is good for 12th place in NHL history.

The 60-year-old won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008 and won two Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014 coaching Team Canada. He is the first and only coach to win a Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold, World Cup, World Championship, and World Junior Championship.

The Blue Jackets fired Brad Larsen on April 15 after the team finished last in the Eastern Conference and 31st in the NHL with a record of 25-48-9.