The only news louder in the Toronto sports world than the Toronto Argonauts finding new ownership would be if the Toronto Maple Leafs somehow managed to sign Mike Babcock to be the new head coach.
Yes, that happened.
Babcock, who had many NHL suitors, signed a 8-year, $50 million deal. The average of $6.25 million is highest in the NHL. Elliotte Friedman reported on Twitter that the contract is front-loaded and may contain an out after 5 years.
The Buffalo Sabres and Babcock's previous team, the Detroit Red Wings, put in very strong bids, but the money wasn't enough.
Babcock will reportedly have some say in personnel decisions, though the team doesn't have a GM at the moment.
Though Buffalo had a worse record than the Leafs, Babcock turned down a chance to coach Evander Kane and potentially Jack Eichel with the Sabres. Detroit has made the playoffs for more than a generation, and every year Babcock was in Detroit. The team barely finished 3rd in the division and suffered a collapse against Tampa Bay in the first round.
Besides growing up in Canada and going to university at McGill, Babcock won gold for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics teams. He also won a World Championship title coaching Canada in 2004.
Babock won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008.
Babcock has only had 1 season (2004) in the NHL where the team did not make the playoffs. The Leafs have made the playoffs once since that year (2004).
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot of holes/problems. When the Leafs get better quality young players to the ice, provided they aren't rushed, then Babcock will make more of a difference. Then again, the Leafs are giving up a 3rd-round pick to the Red Wings to get Babcock. Until then, well, Babcock will put more pressure on the ones who will wear the Leafs sweaters in the interim.
Bell and Larry Tanenbaum — ⅔ of the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) group — acquired the Toronto Argonauts from David Braley, who will eventually own just one CFL team (BC Lions). The sale will actually close at the end of the calendar year.
If the BMO Field renovations go as planned, this will be the final season for the Argos at Rogers Centre. The 2016 schedule might reflect a few Argos road games early in the season in case there are issues with the renovations.
Rogers — the other ⅓ of MLSE — is not part of the deal. Bell owns TSN and RDS, outlets that carry the CFL.
The deal includes 2 Grey Cups in Toronto, whether that be BMO Field or Rogers Centre. One of those Grey Cups will be in 2016.
The push toward BMO Field, home of Toronto FC, came because Rogers wanted the Argonauts out of Rogers Centre after the 2017 season. Rogers wants to put in grass for the Blue Jays at the former SkyDome.
Ideally, the Argos can play late-season games at Rogers Centre along the lines of what the Montréal Alouettes used to do with Olympic Stadium. The Blue Jays have been done by early October every year since 1995.
Toronto FC will have first rights for home dates at BMO Field. And like this year, Toronto FC will start the season on the road in 2016 due to the renovations that, in part, will bring Canadian football back to Exhibition Place.
The Argos played at Exhibition Stadium, where BMO Field is now, before moving to SkyDome in 1989.