Mike Babcock moved from one Original Six franchise to another Wednesday, agreeing to an eight-year, $50 million deal to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs announced the hiring to put to an end months of speculation about Babcock's future with the Detroit Red Wings, where he spent the past 10 seasons and won a Stanley Cup in 2008. Babcock will be introduced at a news conference Thursday.
Though Babcock was under contract with Detroit through June 30, the Red Wings granted him permission to speak to other teams on May 8.
The deal makes Babcock the NHL's highest-paid coach. He reportedly will receive a large signing bonus and make between $5 million and $6 million a season.
By hiring Babcock, 52, the Leafs must send a third-round pick to Detroit as compensation.
Landing Babcock is a major coup for Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan.
"I'm proud of Shanny, I'm proud that he dreamt big," said Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "He got the big whale.''
Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said Babcock told him of his decision Wednesday morning.
"My offers last June were a four-year term. Again in January, it was a four-year term," Holland said. "As we sat yesterday morning, I said, 'Mike, the best I can do is five years.'"
Detroit is expected to replace Babcock with Jeff Blashill, coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, its AHL affiliate.
•The Senators signed goalie Andrew Hammond to a $4.05 million, three-year contract. Hammond's spectacular late-season run got the Senators into the playoffs.