The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/19/13 at 02:17 PM ET
The Vancouver Sun's Cam Cole attended Sunday's Red Wings practice, and he reports that a member of the media who may or may not go nameless, depending on what transpires over the next 12-24 hours, asked Wings coach Mike Babcock whether the frustrated and grumpy Jonathan Toews will rebound to lead the Blackhawks in Game 3.
This question was apparently not well-received by the coach of the Detroit Red Wings:
“I’m not here to evaluate whether he’s frustrated or not. I don’t know where you’re going with this, but I’m not going to help you write your story,” Babcock bristled Sunday morning at Joe Louis Arena, where the Wings and Hawks resume their historic rivalry Monday night with the best-of-seven split at a game apiece. “What do you want me to say? Jonathan Toews is a real good player, I’ve coached him, he’s mentally tough, he works hard, he’s an Olympic champion, a Stanley Cup champion, and world junior champion -- I don’t know what else he’s won, but he knows how to play. I would expect that he’s gonna play hard in this series. I didn’t think he didn’t play hard yesterday, though.”
Instead, Babcock wanted to praise his own team's captain, Henrik Zetterberg, for registering a pair of assists while shutting down Toews' line...
“Well, he won the Conn Smythe in ’08, he knew how to play then,” said Babcock, more or less dismissing the notion that Zetterberg has, if anything, elevated his game even further since succeeding the hallowed Nick Lidstrom as captain to start the season. “He’s a fierce competitor. Stats show he scores better at playoff time, and he’s normally a slow starter in the league, this is the first time he hasn’t been -- but I think he and (Pavel) Datsyuk give us a great one-two punch, real determination, real good defensively, much harder people than you’d expect ... and I’m not talking craziness, but they compete and so it gives us good balance.”
And as Cole also traveled to Anaheim to cover Game 7 of that series, he recalled something Babcock stated about his team's captain before he helped lead the Wings on the ice and on the scoresheet...
“I think he's been outstanding, but he's always been one of those guys,” Babcock said of his captain, even before the deciding game had been played in Anaheim. “He's a son of a coach. Lots of really good players just do what they do and don't have a clue -- he knows what he's doing, and he knows what everyone else should be doing. He's a calm influence. He stands up for the players and for himself. He's ultra-competitive, and you know he's going to play good [in Game 7]. You just know. That to me is what leadership is about. It is not so much what you say but what you do. I think he's a great role model for our guys.”
Before noting that Babock neither wanted to reveal who'd be checking the Toews line on Monday, nor whether Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will play together (though it sounds like they won't):
“One of 13 or 40. You’ve got two lines there, depending who’s tired, who was on the power play, who was on the penalty kill, what zone the faceoff’s in, who’s winning faceoffs,” said Babcock. “One of those two guys will play against him for sure.”
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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.