The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/02/12 at 12:45 AM ET
I would prefer to not overload regular KK readers with, “All Red Wings, All the Time” coverage, but this particular article is a little too good to bury in the sea of Red Wings-Canucks practice day updates. The Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre believes that, and I quote, the Red Wings are, “The Dynasty That No One Hates,” and have “Earned the Love” of legions (cue cries of protest from Blackhawks, Blues, Predators, Sharks, Ducks, etc. fans, as well as those who are not appreciative of Tomas Holmstrom’s art of goaltender imitation). Thankfully, Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t believe MacIntyre for a second:
“Does it do me any good to have a theory after you just made that nice statement?” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday when asked about the double-standard and why no one hates the Wings. “Just write it like that. Perfect. I think we’re a good team and I like to think we play the game well. We’re a team that plays between the whistles and that’s just the way our personnel is built. We’d play different if our personnel was different. You coach what you have and play with what you’ve got.”
See, even the coach throws the general manager under the bus. Reprehensible.
“I played against Detroit more than I played for them, and the good way to put it is you have respect for them,” defenceman Mike Commodore said. “A lot of guys end up staying here for a long time. Other guys come in here and maybe their career is at a standstill or they’re on the backside of their career, and they’re able to come here and get rejuvenated. Players respect that, too. The way things are done in Detroit has garnered respect. It’s a pretty clean hockey team. We play hard, but nobody in here is running around getting in people’s ears. We play a clean, straightforward, puck-possession kind of hockey.”
Yeah, but just try explaining away all the winning. In 6 1/2 seasons since the lockout, the Red Wings are 338-142-63 — 196 games over .500. Including his two pre-lockout seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, Babcock’s career coaching record is 407-204-96. Of the 26 other guys with 400 NHL wins, only Scotty Bowman has a better winning percentage than Babcock. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008 and came within Game 7 of retaining the trophy the next season. After two years that qualified in Detroit as disappointing — fewer than 50 wins and second-round playoff exits — the Red Wings are back on top of the NHL at 34-16-1.
“It’s not just winning a Cup,” Babcock said of the challenge. “It’s after you’ve won Cups; how many can you win and how long can you keep it going? We live scared (of failure) every year. We’re scared to death the first 20 games, and then we’re scared not to make the playoffs and then we’re scared once we get in the playoffs. We’ve been scared since before I got there and I know I’m scared for them now. I think if you take your dog-and-pony show somewhere else (as a coach), it’s probably easier for the first year. You see all these coaches who come in and their team is good for one year, and the next year you guys are all talking about them. So to me, (one year) is not the measure. The measure is year after year after year. That’s what our organization is pride of, that’s what I’m proud of. You’ve got to do it every year.”
Said Zetterberg: “If we don’t win the Cup, it’s not a good season. That’s the standard we’ve had ever since I’ve been here and I think the young players that come in feel the same way.”
But why does no one hate the Wings?
“I don’t think that’s true,” he said. “I think there are teams that hate us.”
MacIntyre concludes by noting that when the Sharks, who Zetterberg cites as a heated rival, met the Canucks in a game where Joe Thornton jabbed Henrik Sedin in the face with his stick, assuming that this never happens to Red Wings players…
But I’m not sure if MacIntyre takes offense when a goaltender gets purposely and repeatedly “snowed” and occasionally comes up swinging, or whether he gets the concept that the Wings might have a team persona that’s as Vanilla Bean-flavored as Nicklas Lidstrom, but winning does indeed breed contempt, even if you’re not nearly as mouthy as the Canucks, Hawks or Bruins.
That being said, I can’t speak as an expert on the subject, because I’m a Red Wings fan, and I’d like to believe that we are anything but “spoiled” watching a team that wins as often as it does. Detroit’s more casual sports fans may not appreciate what the Wings do on an every-night basis, but man, when you watch a team that’s got Pavel Datsyuk doing magic tricks, Nicklas Lidstrom being Nicklas Lidstrom and players like Holmstrom working their butts off…It’s hard to not be incredibly grateful for every minute of hockey you’re privileged to witness as the Wings continue a 20-year stretch of dominant hockey into the second decade of the 21st century, nor is it anything less than incredibly gratifying to know that yes, my Wings are hated, and hated by many, many other teams’ fans because they win so very regularly.
And because of Homer, too, but again, I think he’s nothing less than a master of a dirty, nasty profession.
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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.