The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/17/14 at 01:10 PM ET
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:
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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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.