The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: On Boughner, a Babcock transcript and a significant Ilitch Holdings move
by George Malik on 06/15/11 at 07:47 AM ET
Updated with a Jagr-to-Detroit rumor: As the Red Wings’ brass wraps up its organizational meetings today, it’s becoming readily apparent that we probably won’t hear definitive news as to whether the team plans on bringing back Chris Osgood or Kris Draper, we probably won’t know whether Nicklas Lidstrom wishes to return for one more season until at or after next week’s NHL Awards, if not the NHL Entry Draft, and we’ve received no news as to how the team’s negotiations to retain the services of unrestricted free agents-to-be Jonathan Ericsson, Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves are going.
We may not know who Mike Babcock wishes to tap on the shoulder as his assistant coaches for a while yet, either, and while we can guess, the Wings’ draft tendencies make it all but impossible to know who they’re targeting at next weekend’s Entry Draft, nor are we certain which defenseman (or defensemen) they’ll target on July 1st.
As such, a fan base that’s used to witnessing the Wings’ management move boldly and efficiently is…jittery at best and yell-and-scream-ready at worst after spending a month of watching playoff hockey sitting on our hands, waiting for the future to finally reveal itself…
And as I’m saying this after the jump cut, between you and me, the Stanley Cup won’t “return home” if the Vancouver Canucks win it. Anyone who’s witnessed its team lift that Cup believes that their city is in fact the trophy’s “home,” even if their team hasn’t won it for an extended period of time, and when somebody else lifts it and spends all summer partying with our Cup, if you will, fans of teams like the Red Wings feel a little empty and a little cheated out of something wonderful.
That’s not a sense of entitlement—it’s the reality of having witnessed your team win the ultimate prize. No season is a successful one unless your team wins it once you’ve witnessed the Stanley Cup reduce your heroes, usually playing through tremendous pain after a two-month grind, to tears.
With that in mind, let’s recall the happy Game 7’s of Red Wings lore (i.e. ignore the last two…and the one before the third-to-last one) via the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, writing for NBC Sports, and Kirk Maltby...
Sometimes, Stanley Cup finals Game 7 scenarios are decided by the legends of the game. Montreal Canadiens stars Jean Beliveau (1965) and Henri Richard (1971) scored Game 7 Cup winners, as did Mark Messier of the New York Rangers and the Detroit Red Wings’ Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe (1955). But in Detroit’s other two Game 7 victories in Cup finals play, lesser lights — Pete Babando (1950) and Tony Leswick (1954) — scored the winning goals in overtime.
“To be in the game and have the opportunity to be the hero — it’s not something where you go out there with that mindset — but usually, it is maybe a third- or fourth-line guy, or a defenseman that didn’t score too many goals that ends up getting the game winner,” former Red Wings checking forward Kirk Maltby said.
Before shifting focus to the present and future.
Paul MacLean uttered more total words to the media while being introduced as the Ottawa Senators’ coach than he did during six years in Detroit, and as for the Wings’ present coaching search, we know that Bob Boughner’s name popped up as a serious contender early on in the team’s search. The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell spoke to Windsor Spitfires coach Bob Jones about the possibility that his owner might spend the 2011-2012 season behind an NHL bench…
“We haven’t gotten into to it because I really think Bob is unsure what his future holds right now,” Jones said. “I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he still holds a dream of coaching in the National Hockey League. What route it takes to get there is still uncertain.”
However, should he remain in Windsor this season, Jones said the team would be foolish not to take advantage of such a valuable resource. Boughner remains first and foremost a coach at heart and Jones said he’d eagerly tap into that resource to help educate a young team.
“Obviously, him being the owner of the team, he has a lot of say,” Jones said. “I don’t see Bob Boughner sitting up in the crowd. I think if he’s not working in the National Hockey League, he’ll be working in some capacity for the Windsor Spitfires.”
Very conveniently, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock appeared on the NHL on XM Radio’s Home Ice show with Scott Laughlin on Tuesday afternoon, and their Twitter account posted an MP3 of Babcock’s six-minute interview on Tuesday evening. I’m not sure who joined Laughlin in the studio, but I’m guessing that it was Jim “Boomer” Gordon, so my apologies if I screwed up there as there’s no listing of who the co-host was on Tuesday.
Here’s a transcript of Babcock’s 6:43 interview:
Scott Laughlin: Mike Babcock, head coach of the Red Wings now, joining us, how are you doing, Mike?
Mike Babcock: Well not only the head coach, I’m the only coach.
Laughlin: There you go, I mean, bittersweet for you, I guess, from the standpoint that a guy like Paul MacLean has paid his dues, and he appears ready for this opportunity to come his way, but it does leave you, a bit in the lurch, looking for two assistant coaches…
Babcock: Ah, no, I’m 100% the opposite. I’m pumped up for Mac. He’s worked hard, he’s evolved as a coach, he’s been a great guy to have around, whether it was in Anaheim or here in Detroit. I think the opportunity in Detroit, for him to have worked with Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Nicklas Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk and the coaching staff, and to be around winning every day…
Sets you up so you know what it takes, not that you think you know, and I think there’s a big difference there. I think there’s a lot of franchises out there that think they have an understanding of what it takes to be successful, and in the end, I think there’s very few that show on a yearly basis they know what it takes, and Mac has that already, and he’ll take that to Ottawa, and his relationship was established in Anaheim with Bryan Murray, will be critical to their success, because if your GM and your coach are not on the same page, pretty soon you’re on two separate islands, and things aren’t working very good. So good for him, and I’m proud of him.
Jim “Boomer” Gordon: You know, I always say, Mike, that when you’ve been involved with the Detroit Red Wings’ organization, it’s almost as if you’ve gone to university, and majored in the sport of hockey, I mean…You can learn so much just by, because you have so many great personalities in your organization.
I think a lot of people in the hockey world look at certain individuals, and I’ll include Paul MacLean in this group, as a guy who’s, “Hey, this guy’s an assistant coach and will always be an assistant coach,” you know, so tell me what it is about Paul that you think attracted the Ottawa Senators to giving him the head coaching job.
Babcock: Well he’s already been a minor league coach of the year when he was in Kansas City, and then he did something real interesting. After he went to Phoenix, and I think Don Hay was the head coach, and he got fired there, and unlike a lot of guys who’ve been a real good player in the national league and coached in the national league…When Quad Cities offered him a job, and I don’t even know what league that’s in, to be honest with you, the United Hockey League at the time, he went there and was a head coach, and I think he won 52 games two years in a row on a 72-game schedule, that’s what attracted me to Mac right off the hop when I was interviewing him; a guy who’s a coach, what you do is coach.
A guy who’s a coach, what you do is you coach, you find a league to coach and a job and you coach because you love to coach. He’d already done that; then I convinced him to hang around with us for a while, and we came to Detroit and had a good run here. Mac probably thought he was ready three years ago, and he probably was, but by hanging around and being around more winning, he’s probably even more prepared, but there’s no question that he’ll surround himself with good people, and build it up and make the Ottawa Senators better.
Laughlin: Mike, we’ve heard a lot about a number of names, of course, that you guys are looking at, to replace Paul and replace Brad McCrimmon. I want to ask you, obviously, about the names, and can you give us a timeline as to when you’ll have these, uh, have these opportunities finalized for these gentlemen?
Babcock: You know, I’m taking my time, and it’s been interesting for me. I started out, with, uh, I was going to hire out the most experienced guys I could, and then the more reading I’ve done—I do a ton of reading, and I’m reading a book here right now, I forgot what it’s called, but it’s a bunch of research on success, and they talk about how the guys with no experience have always out-done the guys with experience, so that’s got me wondering what the heck I’m doing.
I’ve talked to heads of all the Major Junior leagues, I’ve talked to people in the American League, I’m talking to people overseas, and what I’m looking for is two guys who’ll come over here and make Mike Babcock better. And what I mean by that is—when you’ve been in one place as long as I have, so six years already, I’m going into year seven, you get to be like Charlie Brown’s teacher after a while: “Wah wa wah,” and no one’s listening to anything.
Our top-end players in Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Lidstrom, they’ve had to listen to me for a long time, so I think that it’s important that we change things up.
The other thing I think is critical in life, if you want to stay on top, you’ve got to embrace life-long learning, and getting better, and that’s what we’re gonna do here.
Gordon: That’s interesting, because we just had Jim Playfair on, and Dave Tippett said to him, “I want you to make me a better coach,” so, to me, it’s a very sound philosophy.
Babcock: Well I guess the way I look at it, and Tipper, he’s been in the national league as a head coach as long as I have, and done a ton of winning, he’s a real good coach and has a good understanding of the game, but…You’re always looking for new ideas, and I don’t care where you get ‘em, if you watch your daughter’s soccer team, or you meet with the head guy from Cisco and he comes up with some stuff that they use in the high-tech industry, or you’re talking to, for example, we brought in Pierre Page from Austria last year to help us out, there’s many ways to get new ideas that make you different and better, and to me, that’s the whole key if you’re gonna be successful.
Obviously, what we’ve done in Detroit the last two years, is let, coming up a little bit short. We want to be back on top; we don’t want to be watching the final two on TV, we want to be in the final two. In order to do that, we’ve got to get better, and the coach has to take responsibility.
Laughlin: Mike, one last one here before we let you go: obviously, the final, Game 7 tomorrow night, you’ve been down that road, obviously, as a head coach, and you know what tomorrow’s going to be about for Boston and Vancouver; tell us what you think about this series. It’s one of the stranger Stanley Cup Final series we’ve seen in a while.
Babcock: You know, it’s interesting, I’ve been in one just like this, in the fact…Not quite the big swings, but one where, all of the first six games, the home team had won all the games, and I know as a team like Boston, we had won Game 6 and we were going to Jersey, and in your heart and in your mind, you thought you were going to win, and we never did. I’m a big believer in Game 7, in the Stanley Cup Final, and I know a little bit about losing. I don’t know anything about winning, because I’ve lost twice. The bottom line is that the team that scores first, I think, it’s amazing, the weight that comes off you, and the other team, I think, tightens up, and you start squeezing a little harder.
In the Olympic Games, we played seven games, and it was the same thing, Canada versus the U.S. in Game 7, and I felt exactly the same way, I felt by us scoring first, it loosened us up and allowed us to get going. So that’s what I would want to have happen to my team, if I was coaching in it.
In terms of the franchise’s future home, it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that Mike Babcock will helm the Wings during their first season in the Wings’ new home, but a bit of a bombshell dropped on Tuesday as Olympia Development president Atanas Ilitch chose to step down, as noted by the Detroit Free Press’s John Gallagher, Crain’s Detroit Business’s Carl Duggan and the Detroit News’s Louis Aguilar, who spells out Atanas’s role in helping Ilitch Holdings and Olympia Entertainment build and sustain their empire:
Atanas Ilitch will step down as president of Olympia Development, the company owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch that invested in such key projects as the Fox Theatre and Comerica Park. Ilitch will focus his time on his outside personal business interests, Karen Cullen, a spokeswoman for Ilitch Holdings Inc., said in a statement Tuesday. Ilitch Holdings provides services to Olympia Development and other Ilitch-owned businesses.
Atanas Ilitch will help recruit his successor and stay on until that individual is named, according to the statement.
Within the past four years, Olympia Development and officials connected to Ilitch Holdings began to accumulate land in and around the Fox Theatre for future growth, including possibly a new hockey arena.
Atanas Ilitch has led Olympia Development since 2005. The company has a 25-year history of investing in and developing some of Detroit’s most recognized and visited venues, including the Fox Theatre — the headquarters of Ilitch Holdings.
We know that Tom Wilson’s the point man in the Wings’ negotiations with the City of Detroit, Wayne County and the State of Michigan regarding building a new rink, so it’ll be..interesting…to see how this development affects said negotiations and/or the Wings’ discussion with the city about extending its lease of Joe Louis Arena on a short-term basis (the team is currently staying at the Joe, essentially speaking, via a gentlemen’s agreement).
In charitable appearance news, Babcock is picking up stakes in Detroit and packing for “the lake,” but before he heads home, he’ll appear at the Edge School North in Grande Prairie, Alberta on June 21st as part of a charity dinner;
• The Darien (Connecticut) Patch’s Bob Birge provides advance notice that
Jimmy Howard and
several current and former NHL’ers are taking part in the Big Assist III, a charity game which will benefit “individuals with spinal cord injuries,” on July 13th in Stamford, Connecticut, and you can find out more about the event here;
And in non-charitable news, I’ve sent out the thank-yous and tallied the bucks and I’m still about $200 short of my goal for attempting to defray most of the costs for attending the Wings’ summer prospect camp from July 7-14 in Traverse City (during the Cherry Festival, thus insane hotel rates), and if you could lend a hand, I’d appreciate it. Despite some incredibly generous donations, the $5 and $10 and $20 donations are really the ones that added up to make things work.
Update: For the record, you’re gonna hear about this one from the nut-bags: Jaromir Jagr’s friend, Marian Jelinek, told Denik Sport’s Zdenek Janda that he’s recommending that Jagr join the Red Wings when free agency begins.
This is not his agent talking, so take this as nothing more than a headline-grabbing rumor being conveniently dropped to generate web traffic.
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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.