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Dr. Babcock

from Beill Beacon of the CP at the Lethbridge Herald,

Coach Mike Babcock never forgot McGill University and his alma mater certainly never forgot him.

On Monday, McGill bestowed an honorary doctorate of laws of one of its best known graduates, who often wears a university tie behind the bench for big games with the Detroit Red Wings or Canada’s Olympic team.

Babcock was a star defenceman for the McGill Redmen from 1983 to 1987, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education and doing some postgraduate work in sports psychology before going on to be one of the world’s top hockey coaches.

“I grew up in a family with three sisters,” the 50-year-old said before accepting the degree at the university’s fall convocation ceremonies. “I never had any brothers, but when I left McGill I had brothers for the rest of my life.

“The opportunity for me to grow as a human being and get a foundation – that to me is what McGill is. It provides a foundation and sets you up for the rest of our life. I’m thankful for that. I’m fortunate to be tied to the school ever since. I feel it’s important to give back as much as you can.”


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I sometimes think people calling for Babcock’s firing aren’t aware of his background - namely his education in sports psychology.

I know sometimes we get Babblespeak, but the he’s a smart guy. He has an outlook on life that he brings into his coaching, and it shows when he talks about things like waking up and seeing it’s a new day and spending time with the family the day after a playoff loss. Or just recently, when he talked about how he doesn’t talk to the veterans all the time because they need to think about things other than hockey.

Similarly, I’ve been doing a martial art for almost a decade and the lessons in it can carry over into my everyday life. I can be more calm or confident in different situations or use my body more efficiently when I’m on the job, lugging around heavy things or pulling a cable through a ceiling.

That’s what I think Uncle Mike has learned. The game, the business…in a way, it’s all a microcosm for living. It’s a struggle either way, and he’s there to help the players through it. In my opinion, he’s the best help the Wings can get.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 11/25/13 at 08:25 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Things we never heard until last season:

Babcock not only saying, “I know when to leave them alone and when to talk to them” about losses and poor periods, but also, “I talk to them all the time” when asked about the leadership group, “Of course I talk to him” when asked about struggling players and previously-never-heard, “I talk to Howie” or “I talk to Gus” statements when Babcock used to say that he knew nothing about goaltending or speaking with goalies save what Jim Bedard told him his goalies had to say.

During the last lockout, Babcock readily admitted that he felt reinvigorated by the stoppage and tweaked his coaching style to account for the Wings’ “youth movement,” incorporating more player feedback and utilizing his players as resources—goalies and rookies included—as he felt that he needed to evolve as the team’s make-up changed from the Lidstrom-and-Draper-and-Holmstrom-run-the-room days to a younger group.

He’s changed. He’s learned and grown. He’s still an alpha-male-of-alpha-males, a gritty and grinding personality, but he and the team made a brilliant move in bringing in Tom Renney to eliminate the “Pete and Repeat” scenario that was Babcock and Blashill because Renney’s a “players’ coach” who can serve as the “good guy,” a la Paul MacLean, and he’s slowly but surely loosening the reins from time to time.

He’s never going to be anyone but Hardass Babs, but he’s working and changing and growing.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/25/13 at 09:08 PM ET


No doubt he’s a smart guy but there’s nothing saying smart guys can’t be wrong and his background in sports psychology means two things -jack and squat-if he can’t get his team going.

I don’t know if he should be fired or not, but going to school for something doesn’t make one great at something, and getting an honourary doctorate doesn’t mean you should be practicing medicine.

Posted by Garth on 11/25/13 at 09:10 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Going to school for something gives you a set of skills that you can utilize to accomplish tasks. Going to school does not automatically make you good at something, but it helps.

He’s doing the best he can. This is not a Fire Babcock situation, despite what some may believe, and it has little to do with his academic pedigree.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/25/13 at 09:28 PM ET


@Crimson and George; I never knew any of what you just posted. I kinda feel like a douchebag for being such an inconsiderate fan, but I’ve also never seen a team struggle like this out of the gate, and it is directly attributable to personnel decisions that were clearly a mistake. But, you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20.

I hope we FINALLY turn this thing around because we do have a long way to go; gotta remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. But, once Pav comes back, what do you guys think Babs will do with the lines? My guess is:


Cleary is a healthy scratch

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 11/25/13 at 09:35 PM ET

gowings's avatar

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 11/25/13 at 07:25 PM ET

Just wanted to say…I love reading your posts smile

Posted by gowings from MTL on 11/26/13 at 11:23 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.