SASKATOON, Canada – Last weekend was Mike Babcock Day in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, as his hometown honoured him for becoming the first ever coach to earn membership into hockey’s most exclusive club – the Triple Gold Club.
And to make a good story better, his city also put him to work for a good cause, as the celebrations raised significant funds towards the area’s first Children’s Hospital. The various governments in the province have already pledged some $200 million to the project, and Babcock helped raise more through a gala dinner, auction, and appearances by many of hockey’s elite.
The special day was really a weekend and began on Friday morning with a star-studded breakfast attended by some 600 people. Guests of honour included Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history; Ken Holland, general manager of the Detroit Red Wings; Todd McLellan, coach of the San Jose Sharks; and, several players, notably Luke Schenn, brothers Colby and Riley Armstrong, and Robyn Regehr. Only Bowman is not a Saskatchewan native.
After the breakfast fans were treated to a Q & A session with these hockey stars, but soon after the boys of winter were put to work at the local arena. Dozens of bantam-level kids from the area took to the ice with Babcock and friends for some instruction, and then it was time for a coaching symposium. Many coaches from around the province were invited to attend a special session to discuss strategy and coaching tactics, getting pointers from some of the most successful men in the NHL.
The gala dinner on Saturday evening was even more special. Another 600 people attended, many also contributing to an auction which raised thousands of dollars for the hospital. Holland donated a trip for two aboard Red Bird, the private jet used by the Detroit Red Wings for road games. After, Babcock received official recognition for joining the Triple Gold Club when a letter from René Fasel was read aloud.
The IIHF President congratulated Babcock on joining the very exclusive and honourable Triple Gold Club.
“He’s the first ever coach to have led his teams to an Olympic Gold Medal, to an IIHF World Championship Gold Medal, and to the Stanley Cup. This is international hockey history and obviously an exceptional accomplishment,” Fasel said. “Not only did his teams win, they also won in style.”
Indeed, while there are presently 24 players who are TGC members, Babcock stands alone as the only coach, and given the difficulty of these victories, he might well stand alone for a very long time, indeed.