Toronto hooked "the big whale," as one Maple Leafs executive put it, when the team landed highly sought-after coach Mike Babcock on Wednesday.

And all they needed for bait was the most lucrative hockey coaching contract of all time.

Babcock reportedly received an eight-year deal worth about $50 million US, putting him in rare company.

Babcock's salary puts him in the upper echelon of well compensated coaches when considering the North American big four sports: hockey, baseball, basketball and football.

Here's a look at how the former Detroit Red Wings coach's salary compares with those of his counterparts in the sports world.

Highest paid coach in NHL by far

Babcock's $6.25 million US annual salary means he'll make more than double any other coach in the National Hockey League.

Chicago's Joel Quenneville is believed to be the next highest paid coach at a reported $2.75 million.

(Edmonton's incoming coach Todd McLellan may have received a big payday as well, but it will be nowhere near Babcock's.) 

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Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville makes a reported $2.75 million annually. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

More than average NHL player

According to Forbes, the average NHL player salary this season is $2.7 million.

Babcock makes a salary worthy of an NHL first-liner — he'd be the 45th highest paid player next season, making a salary in the ballpark of Montreal Canadiens' star goaltender Carey Price or Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, according to NHLnumbers.com 

If he were in a Leafs uniform, he'd make more next year than everybody on their roster except their ostensible stars: forward Phil Kessel ($8 million) and defenceman Dion Phaneuf ($7 million). 

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Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price makes slightly more annually than Babcock. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

A lot by North American standards

In the NFL, eight coaches make salaries equal to or more lucrative than Babcock's, with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton ($8 million) and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick ($7.5 million) among the top earners.

In college football, Alabama's Nick Saban earns about $7 million annually, more than a million dollars more than his nearest competitor.

In the NBA, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers is estimated to make $10 million annually, while the highest paid coach in college basketball, Kentucky's John Calipari, earns about $6.3 million, according to USA Today.

Baseball managers (who also coach) get the short end of the stick, comparatively. Information about baseball managers' salaries is even harder to come by than in other North American sports, but top ones like the Chicago Cubs' Joe Maddon and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Mike Scioscia reportedly earn about $5 million annually.

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Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers makes a reported $10 million annually. (Bruce Kluckhohn/USA Today Sports/Reuters)

 

Can't hold a candle to soccer

The world's most popular sport is also the most lucrative for coaches.

According to Forbes, the 10 highest-paid coaches made an average $11.3 million per year last year — and the numbers have risen since then.

Chelsea's Jose Mourinho makes about $20 million annually, making him the highest paid coach in the world this year.

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He's No. 1! Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is believed to be the highest paid coach in the world. (Rui Vieria/Associated Press)