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Red Wings coach Mike Babcock says Olympic responsibilities don’t detract from commitment to day job

The Red Wings-Maple Leafs game-day update post continues to roll on ahead of tonight's game (7 PM EST start, FSD/CBC/NHL Network with the usual Center Ice and GameCenter Live blackouts/97.1 FM) between Detroit and Toronto, but the following article from the National Post's Eric Koreen spoke with Red Wings coach and Team Canada Olympic coach Mike Babcock about his supposedly split allegiances, and Babcock made one point abundantly clear:

“I understand who pays me,” Babcock said on Saturday morning. “I don’t have any problem figuring that out at all.”

That would be the Detroit Red Wings, who employ Babcock as their head coach. The Red Wings play in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, which meant that the coach was subjected to a lot of queries about Sochi. The Canadian management staff, led by Steve Yzerman, is poised to announce the roster on Jan. 7.

Babcock said he allows himself to think about the Canadian team on his drive to and from the Joe Louis Arena. Also, in preparing for the Red Wings’ opposition, he has to game plan for the best players in the game — some of those players are candidates for the Canadian team, while others will represent Canada’s competition.

Continued

Update: The CBC's Tim Wharnsby penned a similar article:

When he gets behind the wheel of his car, he puts on his Bluetooth device and starts yacking about the game and Canadian candidates to other coaches on his Olympic staff (Lindy Ruff, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Julien and Ralph Krueger), Yzerman or another member of the management team (Ken Holland, Kevin Lowe, Doug Armstrong and Peter Chiarelli).

"The one thing, when you're playing other teams, you are always aware of who the good players are," Babcock said before his Red Wings visited the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada. "That's your job and you have an understanding of that. Anytime you get an opportunity to talk to good hockey people, and I consider all the people on the management staff and the coaching staff good hockey people, you have a chance to learn something. It benefits the Red Wings."

Babcock has enjoyed plenty of success as a head coach in the past 20 years. He's won the University Cup with the Lethbridge Pronghorns in 1993-94, steered Canada to world junior gold three years later and Canada to a world championship title in 2004, won a Stanley Cup with the 2007-08 Red Wings, and coached Canada to Olympic gold four years ago in Vancouver.

But coaching teams in short-term events like the world junior, world championship or Olympics is much different than coaching in the NHL.

"Obviously, you don't know the players as good as you know the ones on your own team," Babcock said. "You can't get [the players] as much ice time [in games]. You're a work in progress more than say at playoff time in the NHL. It's different representing your country. It's a special, special thing that happens every four years. Anybody who gets a chance to get involved whether you're a therapist or whether you're an Olympian or whether you're a medallist, it's a special time."

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Red Wings coach Mike Babcock says Olympic responsibilities don’t detract from commitment to day job

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 12/21/13 at 06:17 PM 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.