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Waddell: Babcock, Holland discuss the Red Wings’ resurgence, rebuilding-on-the-fly philosophy

In addition to today's mid-day stories, Michigan Hockey's Dave Waddell (via RedWingsFeed) offers two particularly intriguing comments from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland regarding both the team's 2013 regular season and playoff perormance and the shape of its roster to come.

As Waddell notes, Babcock suggested that his team exceeded expectations in no small part because its players stepped up in more ways than one...

“That would be more than true,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock of whether he thought his team had overachieved. “I thought the guys worked real hard. I thought it was a competitive group that tried to get better each and every day.

“Our leadership group – Zetterberg, Kronwall, Datsyuk – set the bar very high. In all the years I’ve been in coaching, I thought that group helped the coaching staff and their teammates as much as any group I’ve ever been around.”

Babcock reiterated his statements regarding having the "most fun" coaching a team of any time during his two-plus-decade tenure as an NHL coach...

“We made mistakes but I don’t think we made mistakes because of lack of work ethic,” Babcock said.“I thought we competed. I thought this group was spectacular as far as that and energy. I enjoyed coaching this year maybe as much as I ever enjoyed it. I had a great time.”

And while the Red Wings will not re-sign all of their unrestricted free agents-to-be (Damien Brunner, Daniel Cleary, Valtteri Filppula and Drew Miller), they will retain the services of their four restricted free agents (Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith), the team will accommodate the graduation for Tomas Tatar from the AHL as well, and the team hopes that Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi will recover from their back issues to contirbute next season.

If the team does indeed succeed in its attempts to re-sign Cleary and Miller, and if the team doesn't buy out or move Mikael Samuelsson or Kyle Quincey, it's going to face one hell of a roster crunch, as Holland told Waddell...

“We’ve got some big decisions because there’s a push from below,” Holland said. “When the season started last year, guys like Brian Lashoff, Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Smith, they were all in Grand Rapids. Tomas Tatar’s in Grand Rapids, we signed a Danny DeKeyser, there’s five or six players that at the start of the ‘12-’13 season weren’t on our roster. Those guys are all on our radar screen. Other than DeKeyser, they’ve all got to go through waivers. I’m pretty comfortable saying that none of them are going through waivers.

“We started the year with 23 players and you add those five, that’s 28, so we probably have 27 or 28 players. We’ve got some tough decisions to make and at the same time, obviously I don’t think it’s a big free agent market.

“So much like the Red Wings were built in the ‘90s, through the draft, you know Fedorov and Yzerman and Lidstrom and Konstantinov, we’re trying to do the same thing now. We’ve got to build through the draft.”

And as such, as Holland told both Matt Sheppard and Sean Baligan yesterday, as well as Waddell, the Wings certainly believe that the "questions" the team answered validated the coaching and mangement staff's belief that rebuilding-on-the-fly is the way to go:

"My feeling is we’re in the thick of things,” Holland said. “We’re not at the top of the heap, but we’re in a pile of teams, there are 24 of us in that pile. There are maybe three or four ahead of us in the class, but we don’t have those young studs. We don’t miss the playoffs to get those guys, so we have to go through a longer process”.

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SYF's avatar

Babcock suggested that his team exceeded expectations in no small part because its players stepped up in more ways than one…

That’s a good thing.  This iteration of the Wings with this forthcoming core of players, they’re making this team their own.  As HTO said, this is gonna be a tight group - like DMac/Draper tight.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 06/13/13 at 03:52 PM ET

Alan's avatar

I was never too worried about our team moving forward from the Lidstrom era, because I knew the kids would step up. I don’t think many of us expected to see so many kids this year, but I sure am glad we got to see them in action in the playoffs, and see exactly what they’re made of.

My only hope right now is that we can retain the services of Brunner. He and Nyquist play really well together, and I want to see more of that.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/13/13 at 06:04 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.