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The Red Wings’ coaching factory?

My fondest memory of the Red Wings' 2008 Stanley Cup parade has little to do* with begging Todd McLellan to remain with the Red Wings, but I should note that on my way to getting sunburned and dehydrated on a 98-degree day, I at least attempted to start a, "Please Stay Todd!" chant in front of the Fox Theatre during the parade.

McLellan's now coaching the Sharks, and Babcock's other assistant during the 08 Cup run has pushed the Ottawa Senators far past their expectations during both the 2013 season and playoffs, and McLellan duly noted that Detroit's bench may have become something of a coaching factory while speaking with the Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson...

"My time with Babs and Mac was a really good opportunity for three guys to share a lot of ideas, for three individuals to challenge each other," McLellan recalled. "We had very good teams there so we could experiment a little bit with things. We were all able to contribute to the success of that team, but also the failures, and we learned a lot in those situations, as well.

"Obviously, Babs, his career is well-documented with his successes and what they're doing now. And Paul has done a heck of a job. You don't get nominated for that award at the end of the year without doing a good job, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him take it home. So it was an excellent staff, a really, really good staff. Fun to be around and a great opportunity for us to share ideas."

But McLellan pointed out that he's no longer coaching a Red Wings-style team...

"I think the game has evolved since 2005, when we arrived (in Detroit). That's a lot of years now," McLellan said. "You bring some ideas with you, but if you're still stuck on those ideas and you haven't evolved as a coach or a coaching staff or a team or an organization, you're probably not playing in this round and you're way behind the curve."

And former Wing Brad Stuart agrees with his coach:

Sharks blueliner Brad Stuart, who spent five winters with the Wings and was a part of the parade in 2008, seemed uncomfortable trying to compare McLellan to Babcock, pointing out "your personality is part of how you coach so you can't try to copy somebody else."

However, he credited San Jose's 45-year-old bench boss with not getting stuck on what worked in the past.

"You've gotta be able to adapt in this league now," Stuart said. "We went through it this year -- the style of this team wasn't the same as it's been for the three or four years previous, so you have to adapt and I think our coaching staff, they did that. It took a little while for us to maybe grasp that, but we finally did and they made sure they stuck with it and got their message across. Successful coaches do that. The guys that last are the ones that figure out the personality of the team and adapt their style a little bit to get the best out of their players."

Continued, and between the coaches and executives that the Wings' bench, front office and AHL affiliate have spawned over the years (see: Jim Nill, Steve Yzerman, Scotty Bowman and Barry Smith's continued careers with the Blackhawks, Dave Lewis working as an assistant in Carolina), there's little doubt that the Wings are in fact "the Harvard of Hockey."

*I'm not sure if I'm allowed to tell you what happened on that day, but I will tell you that I heard the Cup clang when Brett Lebda dropped it.

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SYF's avatar

The guys that last are the ones that figure out the personality of the team and adapt their style a little bit to get the best out of their players.

Bowman, at one time early in his career, was the kind of coach who would break you down and re-shape you into the player he wanted.  For a while, that worked and became a model for coaching standards.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 05/24/13 at 12:34 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

You could, possibly, also make a case for Blashill who has had an extremely successful year in GR after spending a year with Babs.  It wasn’t the right fit last year, but I think he really learned a lot in his time in Detroit.

Posted by TreKronor on 05/24/13 at 12:49 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.


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