MONTREAL -- Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock (B.Ed. (Physical Ed.) 1986) was named an Order of Hockey in Canada honouree on Tuesday.
He becomes the first McGill University graduate to be named to the Order, .a Hockey Canada initiative that celebrates individuals for their outstanding contributions or service to the growth and development of the sport. A 12-member selection committee nominates and selects the honourees via secret ballot.
Babcock will be recognized June 18-19 at a gala in London, Ont., along with fellow inductees Danielle Goyette, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Ryan Smyth, a former NHL forward and Olympic champion.
"As players and coaches, this group has led the way on and off the ice, teaching and inspiring Canadian players at all levels of the game," said Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney in a press release. "To be selected as a distinguished honouree of the Order of Hockey in Canada is one of the most prestigious accomplishments one can receive in hockey in Canada, and this year's honourees are well-deserving of the recognition."
Babcock, a 54-year-old native of Manitouwadge, Ont., who was raised in Saskatoon, Sask., skated for the McGill men's hockey team from 1983 to 1987.
Among his many coaching achievements are two Olympic gold medals, one Stanley Cup title, and the World Cup of Hockey championship. The man with the Midas touch has now hitched seven major championships to his coaching belt, including a CIAU national championship with the University of Lethbridge in 1994, the IIHF world junior championship in 1997 and the IIHF world championship in 2004.
During his undergraduate years, he was a two-time all-star defenceman with the Redmen hockey team. He served as co-captain and shared team MVP honours in 1986-87. Babcock graduated in 1986 with a degree in education and received an honorary doctorate of laws from the University in 2013.
After leaving McGill, he spent a year as a player-coach in England, before returning to McGill, where he took sports psychology courses for another year. From there, he embarked on a long but fruitful coaching career with stops at Red Deer College (CCAA), the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL), Lethbridge Pronghorns (CIAU), Spokane Chiefs (WHL) and Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (AHL) before making the jump to the NHL, where he has served as bench boss for the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.
Since its inception in 2012, the Order of Hockey in Canada has recognized 21 honourees, including: Jean Béliveau (2012); Scotty Bowman (2017); David Branch (2016); Cassie Campbell-Pascall (2012); Clare Drake (2014); Jim Gregory (2015); Wayne Gretzky (2012); Geraldine Heaney (2016); Paul Henderson (2013); Gordie Howe (2012); Dave King (2013); Mario Lemieux (2016); Mark Messier (2013); Bob Nicholson (2016); Pat Quinn (2015); Gordon Renwick (2012); France St-Louis (2014); Serge Savard (2015); and Steve Yzerman(2014).