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Red Wings coach Mike Babcock speaks bluntly during interview on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM

Updated 4x at 4:44 PM: Red Wings coach Mike Babcock appeared on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Ryan and Rico show this moring, and he addressed the hot-button topics--his contract status and the return of Daniel Cleary--as well as many other issues over the course of nearly 13 minutes' worth of interview time:

WXYZ's Brad Galli "live-Tweeted" the interview...

As did Detroit Sports 105.1's Matt Dery:

Update: Via RedWIngsFeed, The Hockey Writers' Tom Mitsos also found that Detroit Sports 105.1's Denny Kapp took close note of the interview:

Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed, CBS Sports' Chris Peters took note of Babcock's comments, too:

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is known for being a brilliant coach, but he's also known for his intense, hard-nosed approach that can rub some players the wrong way. During a radio interview with Detroit Sports 105.1 Thursday, Babcock addressed those rumors and his future with the club quite candidly and bluntly:

“If you don't want to be coached, don't come here,” Babcock told hosts Ryan and Rico. “If you want to be pushed to be the best that you can be, that's what we do here. The proof is in the pudding.

“Am I warm and cuddly everyday? I am with my family.

“I think I care a lot about my players. When you care about people, you make them do it right. When you don't and there's lots of coaches that don't, then their teams don't do it right and they don't have success.

“We just have the hard meetings. We get it out front. Does it piss people off once in a while? Absolutely. But it also leads to behavioral changes and getting things better. So you know what, I'm not apologizing for that stuff at all.”

...

Babcock also sounded rather miffed about the sources of reports and rumors flying about the perception that players don't want to come play for him.

“I think it's easy to stand on the sidelines and second-guess everything all the time and I think that's what you get paid to do and the more controversy you can create in the media, the more they like you and the more bloggers we have, the more controversy we have, but that's all part of the sport,” he said. “What I've found is if the people in the hockey department make the decisions, we're employed. When we start looking for answers in the media, then we'll be in the media soon.”

The latter remark gets really *#$%@& tiring. I'm not invited to the party because I'm a blogger, but you'd better believe that if I screw up and drop my professionalism on the floor, Paul will fire me. I've seen what happens when other bloggers who worked for KK screwed up--they disappeared--and I am expected to hold myself accountable for EVERYTHING I say, literally to players and coaches' faces.

I don't start fires. As I told Babcock when I first met him, my job is to put them out.

I certainly don't expect Babcock or Holland to make their decisions based upon public opinion--that's an awful way to run a team--but I do expect the team to have some sort of marginal level of respect for opinions they might disagree with.

Update #3: Via Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford:

Detroit’s decision to re-sign Dan Cleary to a one-year, $1.5 million contract after a disappointing ’13-14 campaign was met with scorn by fans and media. But to hear head coach Mike Babcock explain it, the Wings had reason to take a gamble.

“Last year, he didn’t bring anything,” Babcock told Detroit Sports 105.1 radio. “But the year before, he was a key, key component leadership-wise, forechecking-wise, heavy on the puck-wise, just being a heck of a player for us.”

The key to the deal, it seems, is Cleary’s knee. It was a problem throughout last season, forcing him to miss the final 22 games of the regular season and Detroit’s entire five-game playoff loss to Boston in the opening round. Even when he was able to play, the 35-year-old looked a step slow, scoring just four goals and eight points in 52 games, posting a minus-11 rating.

But a summer working with Red Wings trainer Mike Barwis — who Babcock called “the best in the business” — has led the Wings to believe Cleary’s knee issues are a thing of the past, though they’re still cognizant of the risks involved.

“We’ve been told that his knee’s really come on,” Babcock explained. “If he’s on one leg like he was last year, he can’t play on our team. If he’s on two legs, he can help us win. Is it going to happen for sure? No. Would we have wasted the money if he can’t play? I guess. Is it a calculated decision and risk on our part? Yes.”

Update #4: Here's even more transcription from the Free Press's Brian Manzullo:

“We just have the hard meetings. We get it out front. Does it piss people off once in a while? Absolutely. But it also leads to behavioral changes and getting things better. So you know what, I'm not apologizing for that stuff at all. I like to be treated honest.

"I think it's easy to stand on the sidelines and second-guess everything all the time and I think that's what you get paid to do and the more controversy you can create in the media, the more they like you, and the more bloggers we have, the more controversy we have. But that's all part of the sport. What I've found is if the people in the hockey department make the decisions, we're employed. When we start looking for answers in the media, then we'll be in the media soon."

Babcock also said about Dan Cleary, who re-signed with the Wings earlier this month: “Last year, he didn’t bring anything. But the year before, he was a key component, leadership-wise, forechecking-wise. ... We had a decision to make. We signed Dan to what I consider a great contract. Hardly any cap hit whatsoever. What we’re betting on is he’s training with Borowitz. ... We’ve been told that (Cleary’s) knees have really come on, if he’s on one leg like he was last year, he can’t play on our team. If he’s on two legs, he can help us win.”

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Comments

Avatar

Good news about Z.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/17/14 at 01:14 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Look forward to listening when I get back to the office, here in Richmond Dogs downtown the LTE 3G throughput is awful, plus would have to dig out the earphones.

I enjoy Babcock’s interviews, inciteful and direct, usually.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/17/14 at 01:31 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Everything we need to know regarding the so-called controversies here are answered.  Some may not like the answers but they’re there.

Posted by calquake on 07/17/14 at 01:39 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I meant insightful, but some believe he incites.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/17/14 at 01:43 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I hope the the quote about Zs health is no BS.  He was a man on a mission last season before his back problems took him down.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/17/14 at 01:45 PM ET

SK77's avatar

I hope the the quote about Zs health is no BS.  He was a man on a mission – and really awesome painkillers – last season before his back problems took him down.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/17/14 at 01:45 PM ET

Fixed that for you. Hopefully the back surgery will have him completely sorted out. Whatever they’ve been doing with him the past few seasons was enough to get him in the games, but quite often he also appeared to be in some sort of pain or discomfort.

Posted by SK77 on 07/17/14 at 01:54 PM ET

perfection's avatar

if a player is afraid of living up to Babs’ standard of work ethic or if he is afraid of facing Babs’ wrath or if he only has the guts to suit up for a ‘players coach’... well, I don’t want them on our team anyway. I’m sure Bobby Lang has a beer league team somewhere you can join!  I think Hudler wears the C and Commodore is is the stickboy, though predictably, not a very good one.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 07/17/14 at 02:05 PM ET

Avatar

Some may not like the answers but they’re there.
Posted by calquake

...insightful, but some believe he incites.
Posted by RWBill

Agreed.  I really like Babcock’s interviews because we rarely if ever get any of that trite, canned b.s. that you hear so often elsewhere.  When he’s asked a question, he gives an answer.

One of my favorites was years ago when John Keating was trying to ask Babcock about Chelios.  Keating said something like “How is Chelios taking getting reduced ice time; I bet he’s not happy about it.”  Babcock’s reply was just “You’ll have to ask him.”  It sure caught Keating by surprise.  Maybe you had to be there, but I thought it was great.  smile

Posted by BobTheZee on 07/17/14 at 02:21 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

Yeah I think Z may have been on something for a while. I have low back problems, take painkillers, ect. 

Anyway there was an interview that he gave right after a game (don’t remember if it was before or after he had surgery, probably before) but he looked kinda out of it. It could have just been adrenaline, but he just kinda kept looking around with a blank stare on his face. I know that look well haha

Posted by silversailer on 07/17/14 at 02:22 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Mike Babcock on 105.1: “Did we target guys? Yes. Did they come,? No… But no bad contracts.”

Seriously, Mike? Dan Fricking Cleary for one year at $1.5M plus another mil for playing 10 measly games (and another $250k just for signing) isn’t a “bad contract”? I think Babs must have gotten ahold of Hank’s old stash of pain killers.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/17/14 at 02:31 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/17/14 at 02:31 PM ET

ahahahahaha ahaha aha ha

Now where is that dead horse to beat…..

Posted by weswolverine on 07/17/14 at 02:36 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/17/14 at 02:31 PM ET

Sorry to single you out here, because this is probably the third place I’ve seen this, but just to clarify, that $250K signing bonus is part of the $1.5m guaranteed dollars.  It’s not an additional dollar amount tacked on.

Literally all a signing bonus is in the NHL is a portion of their money which is promised to them immediately (or on July 1st of each year if they’re multi-year signing bonuses).  So Cleary got $250K for signing with ink and paper on the 9th and then he’ll be guaranteed to get an additional $1.25M spread out over the rest of the season.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/17/14 at 02:37 PM ET

Avatar

Seriously, Mike? Dan Fricking Cleary for one year at $1.5M

You probably know what I think about Cleary (current version), but what Babs probably meant is no new “long term” bad contracts. And, of course, Cleary contract cannot be bad for Babcock because he just loves the guy.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/17/14 at 03:01 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Seriously need a clear and complete understanding of the ‘13-‘14’s IR list and the plans to avoid that happening again.  That’s what I want most this upcoming season.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 07/17/14 at 03:14 PM ET

perfection's avatar

the thing with Cleary is that IF somehow he is healthy and IF he actually somehow stays healthy, even if it means spending a lot of the season in the press box, he is a playoff warrior. I think that’s specifically what Babs loves. Cleary was maybe the biggest reason we took Chicago to the brink two seasons ago and the lack of a Cleary-like player was definitely a glaring hole in our Bruins series. Cleary thrives in the playoffs whereas all the kids that got us there last year quickly found themselves in over their heads. Not to say it’s all that likely Cleary can do this and he obviously didn’t really ‘earn’ this one year deal, but despite all that, there is actually a potential upside with him… though we likely have to wait until next spring to see it.

Obviously this is speculation, but I think if you ask anyone on the team honestly if they’d rather a healthy Dan Cleary were on their team come playoffs or on their opponents, all loyalty aside, the answer would likely unanimously be to have him on their side. Not trying to justify the contract (which at one year, really isn’t all that “bad”), but I guess now that it’s done with, I’ll just cross my fingers Cleary does end up helping the team next spring when he’s needed most

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 07/17/14 at 03:18 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/17/14 at 02:31 PM ET

In terms of what it does to the team’s cap situation, both this year, and in the future, it is not a bad contract. I think that’s what this means.

Of course, in terms of paying for a player that should essentially be a camp tryout at this stage, it is bad.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/17/14 at 03:57 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Anyone overly concerned, that’s apparently everyone, with Cleary hogging ice time, just actually listen to the Babcock interview.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/17/14 at 05:07 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I hate to pull the Negative Nancy out, but the team signed Cleary and signed Quincey…I’m going to have to wait and see whether Babcock backs up his words with actions in September. It’s good to hear him say the right things, but then he has to DO them.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/17/14 at 05:10 PM ET

gowings's avatar

Great interview!

Posted by gowings from MTL on 07/17/14 at 06:34 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

just to clarify, that $250K signing bonus is part of the $1.5m guaranteed dollars.  It’s not an additional dollar amount tacked on.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas

Thanks, JJ. I feel a whole lot better about the deal now. grin

In terms of what it does to the team’s cap situation, both this year, and in the future, it is not a bad contract. I think that’s what this means.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet!

Anytime a team ties up $1.5M this year and another $1M next year for a player who offers nothing over guys like Ferraro and Callahan, it most definitely is a bad contract. That’s especially true if it results in the Wings end up losing either Ferraro or Callahan before they ever have a chance to show what they can do.

As Woodie Woodriffe said the other day: “When you give out second chances, you take a first chance from someone else.” Cleary has more than used up his quota of second chances.

And for the record, I’ll keep “beating the dead horse” until Cleary proves he deserves to be on the team.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/17/14 at 06:42 PM ET

Avatar

I certainly don’t expect Babcock or Holland to make their decisions based upon public opinion—that’s an awful way to run a team—but I do expect the team to have some sort of marginal level of respect for opinions they might disagree with.

Why? 

No, seriously… why?

Would you expect an airline pilot to have some amount of respect for your opinions on how to fly a passenger jet?

Would you expect a doctor to have some amount of respect for your opinions on how to perform surgery?

Would you expect an Army General to have some amount of respect for your opinion on how best to deploy assets on a battlefield?

There’s no reason, literally none, why guys with demonstrated expertise in their fields need to sit around and nod agreeably when dudes off the street try and tell them how to do their jobs.

That you suggest they should hints at some issues with hubris, that professionals with decades of success at the highest levels of their professions ought to, even for a moment, take a single suggestion made by someone without ANY of that success or experience seriously.

And for the record, I’ll keep “beating the dead horse” until Cleary proves he deserves to be on the team.

What I find most amusing about the whole Cleary kerfluffle is that in the vast majority of situations the people screaming about his deal are going to look silly.  Cleary will either:

-Not even make the team out of camp.  He’ll earn his 1.5 but half will come off the cap, obviating the concerns about him being on the roster taking a job.  Or…

-Be hurt a lot.  His 1.5 will come off the cap, he’ll be LTIR’d and he’ll not be on the roster, obviating both the cap and roster space complaints.  Or…

-Be ineffective.  He will get waived, half his 1.5 will come off the cap and he’ll not be on the roster, obviating both roster and cap complaints.  Or…

-He’ll perform at least at an acceptable level.  This will make all the people screaming about how awful he was going to be and how 1.5-2.5 is a galactically awful amount to pay him look like dolts.

The only outcome which would bear out the endless screaming over the deal is if Cleary plays, is healthy, but sucks for the entire year and Babcock plays him anyway in spite of obviously superior options, to the detriment of the team, and locking some poor kid in the abyss of… (gasp) the AHL!  Is there some player Babcock’s ever done that for in the past?  I hardly think so, which makes the assumption he’s going to do it for Cleary a bit of a stretch.  He benched Osgood, Chelios… he had Yzerman playing under 13 a night, more than 2 minutes a night LESS than Jason bleeping Williams, in Yzerman’s last year for crying out loud.

Cleary’s going to get the magic shoes from him?  Cleary?

Lots of people have pushed all their emotional chips in on a 9 4 unsuited.  The odds aren’t with you.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/17/14 at 07:44 PM ET

Avatar

“Last year, he didn’t bring anything,” Babcock told Detroit Sports 105.1 radio.

Well, this is certainly true although my question is, if you know he was not bringing anything, why play him for 52 games and watch him bring nothing for more than half a season?

Posted by VPalmer on 07/17/14 at 09:18 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

The thing with Cleary is that IF somehow he is healthy and IF he actually somehow stays healthy, even if it means spending a lot of the season in the press box, he is a playoff warrior. I think that’s specifically what Babs loves. Cleary was maybe the biggest reason we took Chicago to the brink two seasons ago and the lack of a Cleary-like player was definitely a glaring hole in our Bruins series. Cleary thrives in the playoffs whereas all the kids that got us there last year quickly found themselves in over their heads.

That sums it up pretty well. Cleary has to bring it according to Babcock or he doesn’t play. We shall see as George mentioned. I am hoping Weiss comes back healthy as he could be a big part of a successful season for the Red Wings. He could be the missing link from last season.
Here’s hoping.

Posted by bigfrog on 07/17/14 at 09:35 PM ET

Avatar

I am hoping Weiss comes back healthy

Yes, me too. I just refuse to think that we signed a players for this contract who cannot skate, cannot shoot, etc. Apparently he was not been healthy for a single game last season, so I really hope a healthy Weiss is actually a decent player.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/17/14 at 10:09 PM ET

Avatar

There’s no reason, literally none, why guys with demonstrated expertise in their fields need to sit around and nod agreeably when dudes off the street try and tell them how to do their jobs.

So why do you make comments here? It seems to me that you are always giving your point of view on how something should be or is.

What I find most amusing about the whole Cleary kerfluffle is that in the vast majority of situations the people screaming about his deal are going to look silly.

Thank God you don’t need either Cleary kerfuffle nor screaming to make you look silly.

Cleary will either:

You forgot, score 100 goals, become messiah, or simply die to cover all situations in your predictions.

he had Yzerman playing under 13 a night, more than 2 minutes a night LESS than Jason bleeping Williams, in Yzerman’s last year for crying out loud.

Yzerman, too, had very bad knees…if you recall. I would wager Steve welcomed fewer minutes during his last season. He also was barely over 1/2 point per game. Any lower and you would have been calling for him to be sent to the AHL…just saying…

“The odds aren’t with you.”

I’ll take that bet. If Clearly plays all 82 games I will leave KK for good. If he plays less than 52 games you, HiHD - Eric - who-ever-the-hell you are, leave KK for good.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 07/18/14 at 05:15 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.