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Babcock ducks Anaheim

Coach Mike Babcock and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks hit the big time during the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Coach Mike Babcock and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks hit the big time during the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have new owners and a new general manager. Now, they’re looking for a new coach.

Former Spokane Chiefs coach Mike Babcock rejected an offer to remain with the Mighty Ducks, and could be headed to Detroit to coach the Red Wings.

“I received a call from Mike Babcock last night, and he told me he was not going to accept the offer of a one-year extension that I had tendered to him and that he was taking another opportunity,” Ducks general manager Brian Burke said Thursday on a conference call.

Babcock’s original deal with the Ducks, a two-year contract with a one-year extension, expired June 30.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland planned a news conference for this morning to talk about Detroit’s coaching vacancy, but he declined to discuss specifics when contacted at night.

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” he said.

Burke, hired by new owners Henry and Susan Samueli last month, met with Babcock shortly after taking the job and made the one-year offer last week, giving Babcock a week to decide.

Burke said the team was asked if they could “sweeten the pot” or extend the deadline, and firmly declined.

“I said, ‘No.’ I was not going to add a penny, extend the deadline a day,” Burke said. “There was no negotiation here.”

The 42-year-old Babcock led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup finals two years ago during his first season in Anaheim. They didn’t make the playoffs in 2003-04, and last season was canceled because of the NHL lockout.

The Ducks were 69-76-19 in two years under Babcock.

Babcock, speaking at a charity golf tournament in Saskatchewan, told The Canadian Press that Chiefs owner Bobby Brett, his adviser, has assured him he will coach in the NHL.

NHL, union deny Times report

The National Hockey League and the players’ association are closing in on a new collective bargaining agreement, but both sides denied a report that a deal had been reached.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the sides had completed negotiations to end the lockout that wiped out all of last season. But the league and the union said that is premature.

“The report is inaccurate,” players’ association spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said.

The league and the union have been at the bargaining table every week for the past few months and have indicated they are close to a deal. The sides resumed negotiations in New York on Monday, and those talks continued Thursday.

“The media report that the NHL and the NHLPA have an agreement in principle is simply not true,” Bernadette Mansur, the NHL vice president of communications, said in an e-mail statement.

New Chicago coach faces hurdles

Trent Yawney’s to-do list seems daunting to say the least.

As the new coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, he’ll teach his system, reunite with players who were with him in the minors, learn the new faces and mend fences with fans disillusioned by a lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-2005 NHL season.

And, oh yeah, he needs to find a way to make the once-proud Blackhawks winners again. They’ve missed the playoffs in six of the previous seven years when teams were actually on the ice.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s sports or just real life; any time there is a labor dispute, there are losses. Do you regain everything? No,” Yawney said when he was introduced at a news conference.

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