The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/31/13 at 03:35 PM ET
The Red Wings' and NHL's beat writers were Tweeting the heck out of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's post-Wings practice presser, and Babcock did indeed deliver a command performance while speaking for nearly 8 minutes:
Here's the transcript of his presser:
2014 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC TRANSCRIPT
MIKE BABCOCK, DETROIT RED WINGS
DECEMBER 31, 2013
Q. What's it like out there right now? What do you expect the atmosphere to be like tomorrow? Is there a fine line between letting your players embrace the moment and focusing on the task at hand?
MIKE BABCOCK: Well, that's three questions. But, the first is, if you haven't been to a football Saturday here, then you should put it on your bucket list. It's the best sporting event. I've been to the Olympic Games, the World Series, the Stanley Cup. I've been to a few things to say the least. This is probably the best sporting event I've ever been to, bar none. Can it transfer into hockey? I assume it can.
I think the week the NHL has put together here and at Comerica Park to sell our game is a great thing. It's kind of like the Super Bowl setup in a way. Our game, because we go back and forth to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, doesn't transfer that way. We can't do it. But this is an unbelievable event to sell hockey.
Then you come out here and there is no better site. The snow is coming down here today. The ice is fine. They've done a really beautiful job. It's so close to Canada, with Toronto fans being able to be right here is a really great thing as well. It should be a lot of fun tomorrow. We always hope the game will live up to the opportunity.
Q. The players have their families. It's a big event. The whole League is watching. And yet, as another layer to it all, you're tied in the standings with those guys and trying to make the playoffs. Does that add an ingredient to it at all?
MIKE BABCOCK: I think it does. All these games count. They're supposed to count. That's why you're in the League. What we've done with the League now with the cap and all is it took some time, but it's like the NFL is. They've got it set up like this. They want you all to be the same. We were really fortunate in Detroit. We didn't have to get involved in that equation for a long time. Now we're the same as everybody else, and it's a grind. It's a grind night in and night out.
It appears Chicago is not in that mix, but most of us are. So we've got to find a way to win games. Tomorrow will be no different.
But, to me, that doesn't get in the way, to answer your question earlier, of embracing the moment. I think you're supposed to enjoy whatever you do. You don't remember everything in your life, but you remember moments. This should be one. But it's way more fun when you win. It's been like that since you were six.
Q. Obviously, weather is not something you can control if you're a coach. But how concerned are you if there is snow before the game and during the game and how would that impact the play?
MIKE BABCOCK: Not concerned one bit. I thought the snow was great today. It adds to the atmosphere. It adds to the memory. It's going to be the same for both teams. Now the wind is going to be blowing in one direction, they've got a wind rule or something. You change at 10, and then you change at 2:30 or whatever in OT, if you need it. I'm not concerned about any of those things. We'll play, play hard and find a way to win. I assume they're going about it the same way.
Q. What is your analysis of Jimmy Howard and his return leading into tomorrow?
MIKE BABCOCK: You mean, last night? What did Howie tell you about Howie? He never got hit. That's a tough thing for the goaltender. So the great thing about Howie, he's a world-class goalie. He's always been good. He usually bounces back good.
We couldn't score enough last night. That's just the way the game is sometimes. But I've been around a lot of good players over the years, and they normally bounce back. Here's a great opportunity for him. I wasn't telling him no matter what happened last night, he was in there. I thought our team really battled for him. I thought our team tried to get them out of the situation they were in. We didn't have enough in the end to get it done.
He gets a new opportunity tomorrow, and that's a great thing about life is you get up there every day and it can change your attitude.
Q. The return of Henrik Zetterberg to the lineup, can you describe having missed him and what he's brought back to you this time?
MIKE BABCOCK: Look, we've missed a lot of guys. It's been ongoing. I just arrive at the rink and am scared to death when the trainer walks up to me and tells me what's going on that day. But Z's a special, special player. But he's also a special man. His leadership ability and his ability to understand the game and demand a lot from others is because he gets so much out of himself.
His mental toughness of doing it right all the time in all situations . . . he's a huge part of our team.
But I think every team has guys that drive the bus, and he's one of them for us.
Q. You talked last night about some of the younger guys needing to play heavier. Is that one of the reasons you flip-flopped Glendening and brought him back up for Jurco -- that he can play a grittier, heavier type of game?
MIKE BABCOCK: The reason Glenny went back and didn't play the other night was I wanted Glenny to get in a Winter Classic game. They had a Winter Classic game in the American League, and I thought I wasn't sure he was going to be able to play in this game for us. I thought it was unfair if he didn't play, and I was planning on playing Z and Pavel. Pavel's in the game, and I needed another center. So for today I wanted Glenny back. It's unfortunate for Jurco. Now he misses on playing outdoors, which wasn't our plan at all, but that is the way it happens. That is the change in day-to-day and business in our League.
Q. If I could follow up on that. The plan was having Glendening back so you could reunite Datsyuk and Zetterberg?
MIKE BABCOCK: Last night's game I just played three centers. But Glendening had a real good game last time. He played Toronto as a heavy guy. He knows how to play. He's a Michigan alum. He scored two last night. I mean, none of that went into it, to tell you the truth, but he's a good player. We like him. He plays hard and he knows how to play. He's in.
Q. (No microphone).
MIKE BABCOCK: Correct.
Q. Speaking of injuries, is Alfie day-to-day or are you pretty optimistic?
MIKE BABCOCK: I said to Alfie, you're not 20. You play in tomorrow's game if you're ready to play in tomorrow's game. You don't play in tomorrow's game because it's an opportunity of a lifetime. That makes no sense to me. We're about winning. We still think we have a good group here. We need to get our group together and get some traction and show how good we can be. I think we're very capable of doing that. We don't want players playing when they shouldn't be playing.
Q. Any theories on why the visiting team has had success in this event?
MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, you got one? Well, let's just go with what's going to happen in my house. So my wife's maiden name is Dunham, and my kids say nobody parties like a Dunham. So you can just imagine in my house tonight. That's why a couple blocks down the road I got myself a hotel room, because when 11 comes, they're not going to care that the Winter Classic is tomorrow. They're still going to be on time.
So the home team has won one game. We've gone through this with our players. They know. There is an opportunity in our schedule for you to have a heck of a New Year's Eve party on New Year's Day. Make a decision. But if you're counting on your family to do it for you, I don't like your chances. That's my theory.
Q. How many football games have you been to here?
MIKE BABCOCK: I get to one or two a year. But my daughter came here to Michigan three years ago. She never went to a football game in her life, and she's never missed one. She's not really a big sports fan either, so there must be something about it. It is exciting here.
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