Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/26/08 at 01:13 PM ET
The transcript from today’s press conference with Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
Q. Here we go again. Latest on Johan Franzen.
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I don’t even know that. I don’t know the answer, sorry. I was talking to the League guys, and I never got in the medical room to know. I know he’s out there flying around. And I know it’s decision time.
Q. We were told that he was going to be out; that it was a done deal already?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Is that right? I haven’t gone back to Pete, so if you know more than me, then good for you.
Q. Brad Stuart has been a good pick?up for Detroit. Can you talk on what he means to the team?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: He’s been a real good pick?up, and he’s a real good player. He’s 28 years old. He’s a big North American guy, but the reason he’s good here, in my opinion, is because he’s in the right spot.
And sometimes as a player ? we do this as coaches, and we do it as management ? a guy plays good on another team, we go out and spend a lot of money and we sign them. And because of the money we’re paying him, we put him in the wrong spot. What I mean by that is you suddenly have him as a one or two guy or even a three guy when he’s a four guy. You like your players the best when they play in the right spot. When players get hurt and you move guys up, then you don’t like them.
You play a guy who isn’t a power play guy on the power play, you don’t like him very much. That’s why he looks good.
Q. Chris Osgood obviously withstood a pretty good barrage of shots in the first period. How much did that mean to your team, and how much has he meant in this run?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Really important. I thought we were nervous early, and we took penalties. When you do that, your goalie’s got to be good. And I didn’t think our penalty kill scheme, for whatever reason we weren’t as aggressive. So we gave up more opportunity. And Ozzie made some really good saves for us.
And to me you get down one or two there, it’s a totally different story. And so it was a big ? it was a big outing for him. He didn’t have to face a lot of shots, but he had to face a lot of shots when the game was nothing?nothing and good chances.
Q. Kris Draper, is he the heart of this team, the conscience, the legs? Can you quantify him?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: He’s a really good man. And I would say what Drapes is, Drapes is a guy that can call you out because you’re not going to work harder, or train harder, or try to do things better.
Now in saying that, I think Zetterberg and Datsyuk are driving the bus up front, and I think Lidstrom is driving it on the back. Chelios didn’t play in Game 1, and he’s a phenomenal leader.
So I can’t say that. But what I can say is that he’s very, very important. He’s very committed. He understands what it takes to be successful. And I think those guys are coaches in the room. They run this team.
And to me he’s excellent at it.
Q. People talk a lot about Detroit’s experience, yet you’ve got a kid, Helm in there, who is a rookie. Can you tell me what he brings to the table?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, speed. Real good hockey sense. Tenacity.
I talked to him here after Game 1. He was like a few of our guys. He wasn’t very good early in the game and got better as the game went on. He was nervous early, and the puck kept finding a way to get off his stick. But I think you’ll see, as the series goes on, he’s just a threat because of his speed and because of the new game and the way it’s played, and he’s hard on the puck because of his skating ability.
So Bruce Haralson, our western scout there, did a real good job, obviously, in deciding where we’re going to take him. And his development has been fantastic. And I think he’s going to have a good career.
Q. What role does the speed and skill of your defense play in making it more difficult for the Penguins to trap in the neutral zone, or for any team for that matter, to trap and force turnovers in the neutral zone?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, good “D.” I mean, I think the speed. And if they can get back and get the puck going.
Now, if a team can continually get a forecheck on you, the way I look at it is the shift is 45 seconds long. If you spend 30 seconds in your zone trying to get out and then you’ve got 15 seconds left in your legs, all you can do is get off the ice.
And so if you get back and you get the puck going in a hurry, and you put it on tape, your forwards are way faster. Where if it’s NHL’d out, in other words, banged off of the glass, it’s hard to have speed through the neutral zone. Then a trap is very, very successful.
Just on Franzen ? Pete just said right here: Nothing’s on Franzen. He’s not playing. Sorry.
Q. Mike, when you met with the series supervisors today, were you satisfied with the explanation they gave you on the non-goal on Holmstrom, and do you have a better idea of what, I guess, constitutes goalie interference right now?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: The rules didn’t change. Everything’s the same. That’s over with. We’re fortunate, and they’re fortunate it had no impact in the end on the game. Now it’s Game 2, and we gotta go to the net if we’re going to score.
Q. A lot of guys in the locker room were talking about how they wanted to get off to a quick start tonight. Is that something you’ve been pushing in the last couple of days, and is there going to be any other lineup changes tonight?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: No lineup changes. I mean, we always talk about getting off to a good start. What’s basically happened, I believe, is when you lose a game in a series, between the media and yourself, you hammer on yourself. The other team, you walk around and everyone tells you how great you are.
To me there’s an equalizing there. One team gets more fired up, one team thinks ? the last game’s over with. It’s a new game here today.
We have to get prepared. They’re going to be better. We have to be better to be successful. We weren’t happy with our start last game. We gotta be better tonight.
Q. Do you have a theory why Chris Osgood has never been considered around the League as an elite goalie despite the fact he’s had championship success and a boat load of wins?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I think early because he played on a good team. I think everyone talked about Detroit had so much talent, you could just win without a goalie. Anybody who was involved in hockey knows that’s not possible. Goaltending is everything.
But to his credit ?? you know, it’s interesting, when I met with him two years ago after the year when he talked about reinventing himself, he talked about I don’t want them to be talking about the past, I want them to be talking about what I still am going to do in front of me. I think if you have that attitude in life, life?long learning, trying to get better, you have a chance to be successful. So all a part of Ozzie.
Q. Cleary and McCarty have been through a lot in their lives to get to this big stage and convince not only others they can play but to convince themselves. What have they brought to this team knowing kind of what they’ve gone through?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I don’t want to put them together. They’re two totally different people, two totally different scenarios in their life. But Cleary, you have to give the kid a ton of credit.
I mean he was a big?time, big?time 16?year?old player. And it just never happened for whatever reason like he thought it was going to happen for him. And he, much like Osgood, had to bear down and get training. Whether that was when he met his wife and got settled down, whether it was he started hanging out with Horcoff and working and doing the off?ice stuff. I think the year in Sweden really helped him. But he’s come here and he’s found himself a good opportunity.
He’s earned the right to feel good about himself. He competes hard. He’s a very important player on our team defensively, on the penalty kill; on the power play, offensively. He’s a good player for us.
As far as Mack, Mack was trying to get his life back. And I think Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and Kenny Holland made a commitment to him and gave him an opportunity. And now he’s run with it. And he’s beloved in this community. And ideally he’ll get his life straightened out the way he wants and he’ll be an important part of this team but an important part of the organization in the future going ahead.
Q. Several of the players talked about how Nick Lidstrom’s big open ice hits change the momentum of the game. Can a player like him be a difference?maker in this series?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: He is a difference?maker. Right away in this series you know he’s out there. They play in the east; we play in the west. We don’t know anything about each other. And it doesn’t take too long to figure out he’s hunting you. He did last game and he will be tonight. That’s just the way he is. He’s going to find somebody.
And the good thing about him, a lot of “D”, when they run you into the neutral zone they give up odd man rushes. He has the ability to, I don’t know, find you when you’re not expecting him.
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