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McGill grads making Mighty impact on NHL

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Published: 28 May 2003

This spring, Mike Babcock became the second former McGill University hockey player — and the first since Lester Patrick in 1937 — to coach in the Stanley Cup finals, as the Anaheim Mighty Ducks lost to the New Jersey Devils in seven games.

Based on a story by Earl Zukerman, Communications Officer, McGill Department of Athletics

This spring, Mike Babcock became the second former McGill University hockey player — and the first since Lester Patrick in 1937 — to coach in the Stanley Cup finals. Babcock's Anaheim Mighty Ducks shocked the hockey world by pulling several upsets on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals, and stretched the favoured New Jersey Devils to seven games before bowing out.

Babcock, a 40-year-old native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was a two-time all-star rearguard at McGill from 1983-84 to 1986-87, where he also served as team captain and won the Bobby Bell trophy as team MVP.

Patrick, born in Drummondville, Quebec, in 1883, was a rushing defenceman for two seasons at McGill (1900-01 and 1904-05), including the Queen's Cup championship season in 1904-05. By 1926, Patrick was coaching the New York Rangers and led them to three Stanley Cups, including the 1927-28 season when, at the age of 44, he played 46 playoff minutes in nets (allowing one goal) after an injury to his starting goalie.

Patrick's second Cup was in 1932-33 and his last coaching appearance in the Stanley Cup finals was in 1937. He served as a general manager, owner and NHL governor until his association with the Rangers ended in 1947, the same year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Babcock is the third McGill player to serve as head coach of an NHL team and the first since George Burnett guided the Edmonton Oilers in 1994-95. Burnett, who also served one season as an assistant coach in Anaheim in 2000-01, is currently in the OHL as coach and GM in Oshawa.

Babcock has had a distinguished coaching career, including a stint with the Canadian national team that won a gold medal at the 1997 world junior championships in Geneva, Switzerland.

He was named head coach of the Ducks on May 22, 2002, and guided Anaheim to a 40-33-9 regular season record, including six overtime losses. In post-season play, the Ducks have racked up a 12-2 record.

Babcock graduated from McGill in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in physical education and took some courses in sports psychology. In 146 career games with the Redmen, he tallied 22 goals and 85 assists for a total of 107 points and 301 penalty minutes, graduating as the second-highest-scoring rearguard in McGill history.

The Mighty Ducks' general manager is also a McGill man: Bryan Murray.

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