The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/15/11 at 05:48 PM ET
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s interview with WDFN’s Art Regner, as pointed out and partially transcripted by MLive’s Phillip Zaroo, treded upon some of the topics that Babcock mentioned while speaking to NHL on XM Radio on Tuesday, but offered slightly different spins on several topics which are worth the time it takes to transcript an interview (which takes much longer than you’d think), as well as a near-priceless bit of banter at the end of his interview:
Art Regner: First and foremost, I guess, let’s get to the Red Wing things real quick…You’re looking for two assistants, I know I talked to you yesterday, but fans are really eager: what kind of timeline are you on, and what exactly are you looking for in your assistant coaches?
Mike Babcock: No timeline, and what I’m looking for, is I’m looking for…Two guys to come and make our program better. I’m looking for ideas, and I’ll tell you, I’m being totally self-serving: I’ve been here for six years, I’m going into my seventh year…I think I’ve been a good coach in the national league, but I want to be a better coach in the national league, and in order to do that, you’ve got to change. Your players get tired of you, and you become like Charlie Brown’s teacher—“Wa wah-wa,” and they don’t hear anything, so we need change. So who brings that about? Is it young, fired-up guys full of passion, that want to make a difference? Is it experienced guys? That’s the process I’m in, trying to figure that out, seeing who’s out there, and I can tell you right now, I have no idea on a timeline, and I have no idea who those people are going to be.
Regner: Well, you know, it does appear there, Mike, that the names that are being bandied about, and I know you’re not going to comment on them, though…But it seems that the coaches who you’ve had have all gone on to head coaching jobs. Todd’s doing a great job in San Jose, as we know, I think Brad and Paul are going to do fine, Brad in Russia and Paul with Ottawa, but there seem to be a lot of head coaches, is that something that works in favor, having a guy who’s actually coached in the league, at the top level, or maybe a younger guy, an assistant who’s in the AHL, much like Guy Boucher, the coach over there in Tampa that Stevie brought out…I guess what I’m trying to say is, in my roundabout way, it seems that all options are open for you right now.
Babcock: There’s absolutely no question about it, and I’ve kind of gone back and forth, but I’m looking for guys that’ll bring about change, and have ideas, and have a lot of passion, and are fired up and have energy and bring it on a daily basis. I really believe, for our team to stay on top, the coaches gotta be better, and in order to get better, we’ve got to change, so that’s what I’m looking for, is to find a way to…Invigorate our coaching staff, and therefore, invigorate our players, and so how do you go about doing that? It’s kind of exciting, actually, the process I’m in right now.
I’m thrilled for Paul MacLean, that he got a chance, obviously, Beast is going to Russia, which is a good opportunity for him; guys want to be head coaches, they get tired of being the caddy, you’re helping a guy out, and we want people that want to move on and get better and make a difference.
Regner: Well let’s, I know that Nick met, yesterday, with Kenny, and they decided that they’d continue talking, I guess, at the NHL Awards next week in Las Vegas…At this point, I think everybody would be really stunned, this late and this close to the draft, if he decides to retire. What’s your gut feeling?
Babcock: Well, I’m going to say the same thing that I’ve been saying since the season finished, that I think he’s going to be back, that he’s too good and that the team’s too good. Nick’s a great captain and a great player, and a great person, and we’d love to have him back. It’d be a huge blow for us if he’s deciding that he’s going to do something else.
Regner: All right, and I need to ask you this…This has been, I think, the oddest Stanley Cup Final I can remember, in recent history, because…Vancouver has scored goals, like 13 seconds left in a game, 11 seconds into an overtime to win two games, yet Boston seems to be the better team, almost hands-down, yet Vancouver’s one game away, as Boston is…You coached Roberto Luongo, I’ve always loved him; Ken Holland will tell you, I tried for years to get him to trade for him, I’ve really, I’ve liked him since he was with the Islanders…You had him in Game 7, in the gold medal game, can you talk about Luongo, and what do you expect tonight in Game 7?
Babcock: Well, Lou’s gonna be good, and he’s gonna respond, and in saying that, the team that scores first tonight, advantage them. I can tell you that very much, and I’ve been in a series much like this, in that the home team won all the games, and we ended up, in Anaheim, losing to Jersey in Game 7, and yet I thought we were going to win, I thought we’d carried the momentum going back there, and we were going to win, and it never happened. Scoring first is huge in Game 7; I think you’re gonna see Luongo be good, Thomas has been excellent…The injury to Raymond, to me, is a big one, in fact, he’s a worker bee, he plays in your top groups, he gives guys speed…Any way you look at it, it’s been an exciting Stanley Cup Final, it’s been good for the fans, and good for the league; Vancouver’s been the best team in the NHL from the start to the finish, and we’ll see what happens tonight.
Regner: All right, real quickly, Mike, because I know you’re on limited time, and we do appreciate it…Game 7. You coached a Game 7 with the Wings, you coached a Game 7 with the Ducks…At this point, is there anything a coach can do or say, or is it really, it’s a quiet room, everybody knows what needs to be done, and you just have to go out and win a hockey game?
Babcock: Well, I think, obviously, you want to keep your emotions in check, and yet in saying that, you’re asking a guy who’s lost two of ‘em. Now I’ve won a number of Game 7’s, but I haven’t won Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final. Was it something that I did? You know, I don’t believe that, but in saying that, if you go back to Detroit, we didn’t play very good in the first period, the other team was better. We were way better ithan the other team in the last 40, but we weren’t as good in the first. I don’t know the answer to that question. I just know, when you keep getting there and keep getting those opportunities you have the chance to be successful. I know in Game 7 in Vancouver, we played seven games to win the Olympics, and in the seventh game, it’s a Game 7, we scored first. To me, scoring first is a huge deal.
Regner: In a Game 7. I agree with you. All right, Mike, final question. I know I asked you this when Brian Rafalski retired, and I said you have to geta right-handed-shooting defenseman. You kind of laughed and said you just want the best player. Hey, ideally, you want 3 left-handed defensemen and three right-handed defensemen.
But, I mean, isn’t it imperative, in the free agent market, if they’re willing to come here, and I think they would be willing to come here, that you have to get a right-handed-shooting defenseman?
Babcock: Okay. I’m with ya…But we’re going to get the best player, that’s what we’re going to do. And I’d love him to be right-handed, too, and I’d love to have three righties and three lefties, but that’s just not how the world is sometimes. We’re gonna find a good player and make our team better, and that’s our focus.
Also: Expressen’ Gunnar Nordstrom managed to get Nicklas Lidstrom to pick the Canucks to win the Cup tonight, with Alex Burrows starring in the game, but he said nothing about his future;
• Red Wings social media director Jake Duhaime’s curious about your free agent wish list;
• And I guess I need to reiterate this, or maybe say it for the first time: regarding the Jagr rumor, I’ve read Jagr himself ponder aloud the possibility that he could return to the NHL one day, in both the Czech and Russian press, and he has spoken about fulfilling a bit of a dream in playing for the Montreal Candiens, possibly returning to the New York Rangers and especially returning to the Penguins for a swan song, but he has never, to my recollection, mentioned Detroit. Not once. And the person who tells Denik Sport’s Zdenek Janda that the Wings would be a “good fit” is Jaroslav Zidek, a pal of Jagr’s, not his agent.
Is it possible? Sure, especially as SKA St. Petersburg and Avangard Omsk are, for the moment, out of the running for Jagr, but Atlant Mytischi plans on bidding for Jagr’s services around July 1st, per reports in both Sovetsky Sport and Sport-Express, and the well-bankrolled KHL team can offer Jagr much more than the Canadiens, Rangers, Penguins or even Wings could give him. I think the safe bet is that Jagr will remain in the KHL and will play for Atlant. If not, he’s tended to speak romantically about playing in Montreal. That’s what I know.
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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.