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Mike Babcock is, to put it mildly, a polarizing figure in the hockey community. Many view him as one of the best in the world, a surefire Hall-of-Fame coach who exudes all the characteristics that a leader should embody.
Many others think the game has passed him by and that his stubbornness and refusal to adapt to the modern game tarnishes his standing among the all-time best bench bosses in NHL history.
Then, there’s Mike Commodore.
The former NHLer and two-time Babcock-ego victim (according to Mike Commodore) went on an absolute Twitter rampage on Wednesday after the news broke of the now-former Maple Leafs head coach’s firing.
Warning: The tweets below contain inappropriate language.
That’s just a little snippet of the aggressive rant, and if you’ve followed Commodore in any capacity over the past few years, none of this is new or surprising to you. But for those who are confused or baffled by this man’s absolute hate for Babcock, let’s break down their strange history.
Is this grudge hilarious? Pathetic? Both? I truly cannot decide. I am just here for the content, so here it is: the history of Mike Commodore’s beef with Mikey Babs, from the perspective of Mike Commodore.
(All Commodore quotes pulled from a May 2019 radio interview with 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit.)
Essentially, Commodore feels that Babcock tried to screw his career over twice — once earlier in his career and again at the end. In the summer of 2002 Commodore was acquired by the Anaheim Ducks in a deal with New Jersey where he would first feel the wrath of the first-year Ducks Coach.
”I don’t know who Mike Babcock is. I've never heard of him, I’ve never had a run in with him, nothing. There’s no previous history whatsoever. I show up to camp, fight everybody in camp, I’m supposed to play (when the season starts). I’m penciled in, but he has someone else he wants to play. Sends me down to the minors, carves me in the papers, says I showed up out of shape.
“I swear to god, I never showed up out of shape because I wasn't talented enough to do it. I would have been in the East Coast League and done in, like, two years. ... I was never able to get rid of that reputation, like, 'The guy doesn’t work out,' because he want to the fu*king paper and said that. I read it. I’m like, are you fuc*ing kidding me?”
Commodore, who never ended up playing a single game for the Ducks that season, thought he was making his way into the lineup about halfway through the 2002-03 season, until Babcock brought out the pinchers, that is.
“They called me up and did a fat test on me. I’m not even playing in the game. They do a fat test on me, a pinch test. For anybody that's done that test, it's very subjective. Somebody that you put on the front of a magazine that’s ripped out of their mind, you can make them, like, five percent body fat. You just grab the three points where there’s a little bit of extra skin.
“I was always around 10, 11 percent body fat. They do this fat test and I’m 22 percent body fat. It was a brand new strength coach, and he’s like, 'Hey, I gotta fire this in.' So he hands it in to Babs, and Babs waits and gives it to me in front of the team. I don’t know any of these guys. So I told him to go fu*k himself. I’m like, 'You know what, fu*k you. Your test is fu*ked. Let’s go do a real test. I'm not fuc*ing 22 percent body fat, fu*k you.' And that’s when I was done in Anaheim.”
Years go by, Commodore goes on to play a key role on a Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes squad before inking a 5-year, $18.75 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Three years later Commodore is bought out by Columbus and he’s once again a free agent in the summer of 2011, when he gets a call from a Detroit team manned by, you guessed it, Babs.
“So I hang up the phone, call Ken Holland and I'm like, 'I would love to play for you. I would love to play in Detroit. I always enjoyed going in, even when we got our asses kicked. I love the city, I think Joe Louis is awesome. You always make the playoffs. I would like to play there. But you what I think about Babcock. We had beers at your golf tournament and I was fuc*ing ripping on him. You know what I think of him. Does he want me on the team or not?’”
“So I call that piece of sh*t (Babcock), and now I’ve got like 10 minutes left. He’s like, 'Hey, Commy.' I didn’t say this, but I'm like, don’t call me 'Commy,' you piece of sh*t. We’re not friends. And I’m like, 'Mike, please be honest with me. Do you want me on your hockey team or not? If you don’t, if you're just getting me in here because you want to fu*k me over and end my career, please be honest with me. I just won’t sign. I won’t say anything, no hard feelings. But I know this is my last chance. I need to know wherever I go that I’m going to get an opportunity.’”
After Babs promised, according to Commodore, that he’d play a key role with the Wings, Commodore took him at his word and signed with Detroit. Then, he got hurt in training camp, missed the first few games of the season and remained a scratch even when healthy — playing 17 games with the club before being shipped to Tampa at the trade deadline.
“I’m like, this motherfu*ker. It’s happening. I just got bought out, I have zero leverage. What am I going to do, go to the media? Nobody gives a sh*t. So for the first three weeks I was miserable. I was pissed off. And after that I was like, you know what, this guy isn't going to dictate how I live my life. Fu*k him. He doesn’t want to play me, fine.
“I’m going to come to the rink, I’m going to run the stairs, I'm going to practice as hard as he’ll let me, because he would always blow drills down when it was my turn. I’m going to go one on one versus Pav, he likes doing that in the neutral zone along the boards. I’m going to do that and then I’m going to plan the parties. I’m going to be a good guy to be around and I’m going to have fun, so that’s what I ended up doing.”
“Complete disaster. Career over.”
So there it is, Commodore’s version of the situation. Maybe this is all true, maybe it’s a bit blown out of proportion. Likely a bit of both, but I’ve gotten enough laughs out of it all that I don’t really care at this point.
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