How Mike Babcock robbed Mike Modano of his 1,500th NHL game
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How Mike Babcock robbed Mike Modano of his 1,500th NHL game

This might forever change your opinion of Mike Babcock as a quality NHL coach.



It’s no secret that former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore isn’t exactly the biggest fan of Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. Commodore has gone on record several times voicing his disdain for Babcock and it all seems to stem from Commodore’s brief time under Babcock with the Detroit Red Wings.

If you don’t know the history between Commodore and Babcock, jump down to the button for a full recount of Commodore’s dealings with the NHL bench boss. For Commodore’s latest tale regarding Babcock and Hall of Famer Mike Modano, stick with the story just below.

Commodore joined former NHLers Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonette on the latest episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast where he shared a story about Babcock’s time with the Red Wings and how he dealt with legendary forward Mike Modano. You may recall that Modano signed a one year deal with the Red Wings to close out his career after a 21 year career with the Dallas Stars and Minnesota North Stars organization. During that final season, Modano was on track to reach the 1,500 NHL games milestone, but according to Commodore, Modano was robbed of his milestone night by Babcock himself. 

Check out this story, courtesy of Commodore:

“I did a little digging and talked to some guys on the Wings, so how it worked out was Mike was hurt, came back and had like 10 or 11 games left in the season. If he played all of them he would have gotten to 1,500 games. Dipshit fucking scratched him on like game 76, scratched him for one game so he ended up missing 1,500 and ended up with 1,499 games played.”
“I asked the guy (from the Red Wings), when he scratched him did he know what he was doing? Was he aware that this was going to fuck Modano on getting to 1,500 games and he said, ‘Oh, 1000 percent.’”

Ouch… if this is true, that’s like a punch in the gut. How can you scratch a legend like Mike Modano!? Worse yet… how can you scratch him when he’s staring down a milestone like 1,500 career games!? Pretty greasy move by Babs…

And now for a history lesson, courtesy of Professor Commie:

They offered me a one-year deal worth one million. My gut was screaming: “Don't take it, you've got one chance, if it doesn't go well, you're done in the NHL!”
“I told my agent: ‘I don't want to play in Detroit for Mike Babcock, I don't trust him. Call him back and tell him thank you, we'll get back to you.’
"My agent then told me the GM put a 15-minute time limit on the offer. I needed to make up my mind in 15 minutes or he was gonna pull the offer off the table. This was July 1st, free agency had just started 10 minutes prior. I called the GM and told him: ‘Ken, Mike Commodore here, I like you, you're a good guy. Is it you who wants me or the coach?’ Ken Holland said that he wanted me and so did Babcock. So I told him that I would love to play for Ken, and I would love to play for the red wings, but that I didn't trust the coach from previous experience. So I called the coach, by now I had 10 minutes left.
"I called him: ‘Babs, Mike Commodore here. Please be honest with me, do you want me on your hockey team or not?’ He said he did. I wanted to know if I’d get an opportunity. I told him I am not looking for anything special, but that I needed to know if I was gonna get a fair shot and a chance to play. He said ‘I want you on my team. You will get a fair chance. We need someone physical on the back end with a right shot. I want you. You will play.’
“I hung up the phone, five minutes left. My gut screamed ‘Say No!’ This coach screwed me over nine years ago. He buried me in the paper after I had a good camp in Anaheim. He buried me so I would look bad so he could then play his boy from juniors who was an undrafted rookie at camp that year ... Kurt Sauer. Six years later when I finally had a chance to take a shot back at him publicly I did so in the paper when I was in Columbus. But then I started to think about Detroit, a good team, always makes the playoffs, get to play with great players, and about maybe getting the opportunity. So I took Mike Babcock's word and I signed the contract, thirty minutes into free agency. I signed the [expletive] contract faster than when I was a ‘hot commodity’ four years earlier. I was one of the first players gone that year in free agency. Off the board July 1st.
“I went to camp in Detroit, and got scratched out. I did injure my knee a bit so I missed couple of days in camp and the first four games. I got back as if it was nothing major. I came back, and the team won its first five games. I got scratched, but okay, the team was winning. We lost seven in a row, then I wasn’t even close to playing. Scratch, scratch.
“Finally, it was mid-November,Ian White got a puck to the face and was going to miss a week, we went on a road trip. A four-game road trip, and I thought to myself that this was my chance. I played three games, no two games, I think, three minutes a night… The only time I touched the ice was when the fourth line was on, and the faceoff was in the neutral zone. I was opening the doors for Lidström, that’s all I was doing, being a cheerleader.
“Bab then met with me, said he was calling up guys from minors, and scratched me until Christmas. Then the GM forced the coach to play me; I played fifteen games, I fought, I played the best I could with the ice time I was getting. And then I got traded (to Tampa) because Ken Holland felt bad. “