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What a difference a season makes for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s take on ‘the kids’

This little ditty was included in the Wings-Penguins wrap-up, but the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's recap of the Wings' 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh offers both new comments and one quote that bears repeating and highlighting given the Wings' lineup back on October 2nd:

“For sure, no question,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked if the play of the former Grand Rapids Griffins saved their season. “We couldn’t have done it without them. They came here and took jobs, they’re not going anywhere.

“They’re real good players that keep getting better and will be part of us for a long time,” Babcock continued. “What I liked is Jimmy Nill and his staff, before Jimmy moved on, did a real good job because we have these kids. (Jeff Blashill) did a real good job in the minors with them.”

Daniel Alfredsson sounded pretty dang pumped about making the playoff cut, too:

“We’re a good group, we have fun and we know how to work for each other,” Alfredsson said. “It’s kind of contagious when you see everybody going. Everybody kind of drags along and now they pull their share as well.”

Pleiness continues at length...

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They came here and took jobs, they’re not going anywhere.

So who else thinks Cleary is getting into starting lineup when he comes back?

Posted by George0211 on 04/10/14 at 09:10 AM ET


Is anyone going to ask Ken Holland if he wants to admit he was wrong when he made the now-famous, “kids aren’t the answer” comment? Everyone knew he meant one thing when he said that: the roster the team had to start the year simply needed to dig deep and play better.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/10/14 at 09:21 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Did you miss Holland’s interview in early February, when he said that the veteran signings were “on him?” He did admit culpability.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/10/14 at 09:27 AM ET


In hindsight I think Babs and Holland did things the right way. Make the kids work for it And work for it some more. And keep working until they are so damn sick of waiting that they play every shift as hard as they can knowing nothing is guaranteed.

Sure, The Cleary thing was a mistake. And I probably would have given a few of them their shots earlier. But I am also not worried about these guys coasting or feeling that they were owed anything for what they did in the past.

Posted by lancer on 04/10/14 at 09:31 AM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

dey took urr jobs!!

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 04/10/14 at 09:35 AM ET

DrD's avatar

Ken Holland also hires the coach, the scouts that find these guys and The GR guys developing the kids…if you nay-sayers are going to criticize, you might want to keep those things in mind too. He’ll sign these kids in the summer, turf as much dead wood as he can and move forward. The Weiss contract is concerning, depending on how things pan out there…but there is not a team in the league without a bad contract on the roster. If Weiss comes back healthy and plays to his potential - the only issues major left will be on defense and that Lashoff/Kindl pairing in particular. All in all, the team is in pretty damn good shape much of it because of Holland, assuming you’re willing to give credit where it’s due.

Posted by DrD on 04/10/14 at 10:05 AM ET


I do give Ken Holland credit for running the organization that had these kids in place and developed to where they’re all at right now. Holland oversaw that. But he also deserves to get criticized for either 1) failing to recognize the talent was ready and signing crappy veterans who were literally unable to skate in the NHL anymore, or 2) he realized the players were good but refused to break from the “two full seasons plus and 23 years old requirement for players to play in Detroit” rule.

And I’ll continue to hammer the Legwand-Jarnkrok trade. Legwand has been very spotty. Good some nights, bad others. He’s had to learn the system (another reason trading for someone at the deadline generally returns mixed results in the immediate aftermath). Meanwhile, Jarnkrok is NHL-ready and already succeeding in Nashville. I’ve hated that trade since day one (guys, I’m not trolling….let’s not turn this into a post-trade analysis and keep it focused on Holland smile).

Anyways, Holland has done some great things, as mentioned above, and he has also made some head-scratching moves. Here’s a microcosm - he makes a swift move at the 2013 draft to trade down two picks in the first round and then get a top-5 talent with the 20th pick and a second second round pick. Then he selects Tyler Bertuzzi with that pick. Bertuzzi could’ve been had in the 4th or 5th round. Even though Bertuzzi has performed better than expected, Holland still didn’t need to draft him in the second round.

And let’s not forget Kyle Quincey for a first round pick. Although Quincey’s been what I will call “good” since December/January this season, we’ve had him since 2012 and he was a non-factor in 2012 and 2013. Not worth a first rounder. I won’t bring up the Samuelsson or Cleary signings, either. Those aren’t that bad in comparison with the Tootoo signing. That may be his worst signing ever. Tootoo was just coming off a season where he was a healthy scratch in and out of Nashville’s lineup. Holland throws $1.9M per year for 3 years at the guy. Who was Ken Holland bidding against that he had to pay that much for that long for a guy who couldn’t regularly crack the Predators’ lineup? Sure enough, Tootoo never established a role in his two years year, even during this season where the team has gone so deep into the depth chart at forward.

Holland deserves both credit and criticism. But I no longer view him as the gold standard GM. I’m ready for Holland to be “Senior Consultant” (like Scotty Bowman) and bring back Stevie Y as President of Hockey Operations/GM.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/10/14 at 10:18 AM ET


In hindsight, if Tatar and Nyquist were on the team to start last season, when they should have been, we’d be better off.

Posted by Captain Bob on 04/10/14 at 10:56 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

The Wings organization under Illitch and following the hiring of Jimmy Devellano and others have built a machine that has excelled in drafting, developing, and producing home grown talent.  Holland is now the executive in charge of that organization, and therefore he gets the credit for this influx under his watch, and rightly so.

Now on the other hand, you have to consider his roster moves over the last say 5 years, and list what has worked out?  Both Danny DK and Alfredson chose the wings, not the other way around. The rest of his signings have absolutely failed,  and he’s way overpaid on his trades, this legwand one being the last straw for me.  You also cannot ignore that this youth had to fight their way onto the roster, so for all those accolades, remember, in his mind Jurco and Shehan weren’t ready this year, what if he was right. 

So just like a goalie who gets credit for “Wins” playing on a team that is stacked, their his wins, he gets that credit, but you also have to look at the save percentage and GA, two things they have a bit more control over, and the actual eyeball test.  If I applied the same logic to Holland, I’m concerned.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 04/10/14 at 11:26 AM ET


In hindsight I think Babs and Holland did things the right way.

Did I miss the part where Babs and Holland caused so many Red Wings to get injured this year (and last), to the point where they had no choice but to play the young guys?

Posted by Garth on 04/10/14 at 11:28 AM ET


Listening to Babcock throughout the season, I am coming to a conclusion that he simply does not know much about players in GR. Being an old school type of coach, he likes to coach the players who he knows well and who can follow his script. So, he loves Cleary, Miller, Andersson, Abby, etc. Now when he coached guys like Tatar, Sheahan, Jurco and Nyquist for a period of time and got used to them, Babs has no problem playing them in front of the veterans because these young guys are simply better. It just took Babcock a little too long to realize that and get used to them.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/10/14 at 12:23 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

It just took Babcock a little too long to realize that and get used to them.

I somewhat disagree. My impression is that they considered Nyquist to be an NHLer that had the ability to be an NHL stud.  With Tatar there were question marks, especially defensively, to that end, an NHL coach has the mindset of win the next game, and rookies tend to make defensive mistakes that cost games, I can see the skeptism there.  You also have to consider the makeup of a roster and what he wants to acomplish. You have your top 3 units, and then your defensive PK 4th line. Tatar didn’t fit that mold.  On those two I would say he knew what he had, though he might’ve been suprised by Tatar’s will to compete. 

As far as Sheehan and Jurco, sure, both over exceeded expectations, is that Babcock not knowing, I guess, but neither did the entire Wings organization.

Should be interesting to see who sits if Zetterberg returns with the existing squad healthy.  Miller or Glenny? Both are Babs 1st unit PK guys, and find themselves on the ice to close out lead games. Unsure you rush Hank back to kill penalites.  I got a feeling it might be Jurco. Maybe Legwand? Should be interesting.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 04/10/14 at 01:23 PM ET


I think the next guy out for Zetterberg might be Sheahan. His goal last night was his first point in the last 8 games. His line hasn’t been as dominant lately. The next guy it might be is Jurco. But I actually think Jurco has been one of the team’s best forwards since he’s been back. He’s been absolutely tenacious.

Assuming Sheahan sits…


Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/10/14 at 01:34 PM ET

perfection's avatar

Posted by MurrayChadwick on 04/10/14 at 01:23 PM ET

this is the most rational post in this thread by far. your view is spot on. signing the vets wasn’t quite a “mistake”, it’s called hedging your bets. It’s just like signing Modano wasn’t a “mistake”. Sure, it’s a chance and sometimes chances don’t work out. the whole point of DEPTH in an organization is so when things don’t work out there are viable plan B’s and C’s and D’s. If our team had been all kids and we got a rash of injures, who’d have come up then?

I think the team actually WANTS their kids to beat the vets for jobs. that’s how rebuilding on the fly works. when you hand kids jobs, they underachieve. when you let them mature and make them actually EARN jobs over mentors and seasoned pros, they have a whole other kind of mettle. as you point out, basically everyone but Gus has vastly OVERachieved. to discredit the path they took and assume things would have worked out the same no matter when they came up is a total fallacy.

speaking of vets… while Legwand’s point contributions have been pretty much what the team hoped for, there’s clearly been some defensive lapses and penalties that have offset some of that and made the value of the trade seem a bit murky, though I’m sure there’s an intangible leadership quality he brought that obviously Jarnkrok couldn’t have provided for another decade. But over these last two games, I have TOTALLY fallen in love with the Legwand/Miller/Glendening line. They were DOMINANT last night, probably our best and most consistently dangerous line. Legwand skates circles around fourth line opponents, Glenny and Miller are relentless forecheckers. It’s really fun to watch that line and you can’t often say that about fourth lines. They are a total playoff line too. If they continue to get more chemistry over these next two games we might have ourselves a line that is a difference maker come playoff time… and not just defensively either. I don’t think Pittsburgh in particular has the depth to handle that line. Babs will be able to roll 4 lines really steadily and that’s before Z comes back

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/10/14 at 02:05 PM ET


think the next guy out for Zetterberg might be Sheahan

I do not think so. He has been one of the best and steadiest forwards we’ve had this season and he is a huge part of a “kids” line that has been probably our best for the last 3 months. You put Dats or Z between the kids and that might not work at all. He is also very responsible defensively and I think Babcock is comfortable with him, which is most important.
The easiest to sit would be Jurco and I think that’s where Babcock will go when Z is healthy, but as Z is not expected back till the second round, we might never find out. Speaking of Jurco, I would reunite him with Sheahan and Tatar.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/10/14 at 02:24 PM ET


signing the vets wasn’t quite a “mistake”, it’s called hedging your bets.

I am not in the “fire KH and Babs” camp, but realistically Cleary was a mistake because everybody knew that signing meant putting Nyquist in GR to start the season when he was definitely a top 6-9 forward at the start of the season. And we were already on the hook with Eaves, Tootoo, Sammy, etc.
Sammy and Bert signings were mistakes, but at the time both were understandable. Sammy was still a good player back then and KH needed a replacement for Hudler. Bert was playing well at the time although a 2 year deal with NTC was not necessary.
But the bottom line I do not see any “hedging your bets” here. Even if KH and Babs did not see that Tatar and Nyquist are ready (although the whole world seemed to notice they are indeed ready), what the worst that could happen? Nyquist and Tatar are so bad that you cannot even play them in top 12 forwards? In that case you can always sign some cheap forwards to fill your roster that are no worse than Cleary, Bert and Sammy.
The best news of all this that a bigger mistake did not happen and that would be if Cleary would have agreed to sign a 3 year contract KH offered him in summer. And do not even know what is more crazy, KH offering Cleary a 3 year deal or Cleary rejecting it.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/10/14 at 02:39 PM ET


I have TOTALLY fallen in love with the Legwand/Miller/Glendening line

Agree, they are the best 4th line we’ve had for quite some time. The problem is (mostly for next year’s salary structure) you cannot really have a $4.5 mil guy playing on your 4th line. And we also have Weiss who might not be better than a 3rd and 4th line player at $5 mil next year.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/10/14 at 02:41 PM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

Sammy and Bert signings were mistakes, but at the time both were understandable.

I think only the Bert signing made sense at the time. I never liked the return of Sammy; and his being on the rostter has proven to be problematic for the duration of his contract. Sammy was done before he returned to Detroit, it was easy to see back when Van traded him away. If no Sammy, then no issue with the re-signing of Cleary or any other subsequent roster mess that ensued. I also agree the Tootoo signing was poorly conceived.

And we also have Weiss who might not be better than a 3rd and 4th line player at $5 mil next year.

We’ll see what he brings, but I don’t see how he gets off the third line. He’s not a checker, so no fourth line minutes for him. Potentially (another) poor signing.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 04/10/14 at 02:59 PM ET


If no Sammy, then no issue with the re-signing of Cleary

And that’s why you do not sign Cleary, you just do not double down on your mistakes. At that time it was clear that Sammy cannot be bought out as he was faking an injury.

Regarding Weiss, I really would prefer Legwand over Weiss for next year. I was really excited when we signed Weiss when so many teams (including Blues) were apparently on him, but even when healthy (was he ever?) he showed NOTHING. Legwand just seems like a much better player, but we cannot afford both as Legwand will get at least 5/$20 with NTC from KH if he resigns. I would not have a problem with that if we can somehow get rid of Weiss, but I cannot imagine KH giving up on his prized UFA signing.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/10/14 at 03:13 PM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

Legwand will get at least 5/$20 with NTC from KH if he resigns

I don’t see how he could get that kind of term with the push coming out of the farm. Otherwise, I think I’m in agreement with you that I prefer Legs over Weiss (for the same reasons). I wonder if there is a possible trade partner this off-season for the services of Weiss.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 04/10/14 at 03:19 PM ET


quote]I wonder if there is a possible trade partner this off-season for the services of Weiss

I do not see anybody touching this contract. Maybe if Weiss stays healthy next year and becomes a 60 point guy. But if that happens, why would we trade him?

Posted by VPalmer on 04/10/14 at 03:45 PM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

I do not see anybody touching this contract.

it would likely have to be a team that needs reach the salary floor. 4 years remaining at $5m a year is not bad for a team that needs to take on salary.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 04/10/14 at 03:58 PM ET


it would likely have to be a team that needs reach the salary floor


Posted by VPalmer on 04/10/14 at 04:02 PM ET


Buffalo is going to need some salary, too. Especially after they cut Leino loose.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/10/14 at 04:22 PM ET

Alan's avatar

this legwand one being the last straw for me.

It’s only an overpayment if Legwand decides to seek out greener pastures on or after 1 July. I actually like the acquisition, although I would be more comfortable with it if he came with an extension. But as I hear, Jarnkrok hasn’t done much, and Eaves hasn’t played much. As for the draft pick? KH did say he wasn’t giving away their first rounder. He stayed true to his word, and I appreciate that. Even if it meant sending off an extra player to Nashville.

I’m not a big fan of Holland, but I think we did what we had to in order to get a healthy center. When it became apparent that Weiss wasn’t returning to our lineup this year, with Zetterberg and Datsyuk both dealing with their injuries, we just couldn’t make a move to secure a defenseman. We needed a forward, and a forward is what we went out to get.

There is a lot that goes on in the front office that we as fans don’t know about (and that reporters are not always at liberty to talk about). One can sit behind their keyboard and scream all the way to the asylum about how someone overpaid for a player, but the reality is that if a player is in demand, the return will be significant. Be thankful it was just Eaves, Jarnkrok, and a second rounder.

At this point, I would be somewhat surprised if Legwand didn’t stay with the Wings. If he does stay in Detroit, I couldn’t care less about what we gave up to get him.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 04/10/14 at 06:53 PM ET

Since71's avatar

Only a fool expects perfection at any level.  In Kenny we trust!

Posted by Since71 from Bucharest, Romania on 04/11/14 at 02:40 AM 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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