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Yzerman, Babcock reflect upon Hockey Canada’s progress, Hasek’s HOF-er status and Olympic experience

I hadn't seen a North American write-up of yesterday's Hockey Canada fundraiser and awards gala in Vancouver, but IIHF.com's Lukas Aykroyd penned an article about Team Canada's reflections upon its Gold Medal-winning performances in Men's and Women's ice hockey, including comments from Steve Yzerman (who's stepping down as Team Canada's Olympic GM) about the year in review...

“I started playing hockey at the age of five in Cranbrook, British Columbia,” Yzerman told a media gathering at a downtown Vancouver hotel. “I’ve remained in the game, involved in hockey, 44 years later. I’ve followed Canadian hockey at every level, watching Canada’s men and women play. Compared to our first Olympics in 1998, the level for both the men’s and women’s game has grown. For a lifetime in hockey, it’s been a thrill to be a part of it.”

And Yzerman also spoke about Dominik Hasek's selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2014 induction class:

 

“Dom was a phenomenal athlete and competitor,” Yzerman said of Hasek, who backstopped the Czechs to 1998 Olympic gold and Detroit to the 2002 Stanley Cup. “When I played with him in 2002, having the opportunity to shoot on him in practice was so much fun. You got a real appreciation for how good he was and the determination he had. In practice he kept track of who scored, how many goals you scored, where the pucks went in the net, and he was bound and determined to stop you. He was a great ambassador for our game in the sense that he brought the position to a different level in a unique style.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock reflected upon his second straight gold medal-winning Olympic performance, too...

“To me, the Olympic Games are so special,” Babcock said. “My mom never watched sports, but she watched the Olympic Games. People who aren’t interested in sports still follow the Olympics. I think it’s the greatest opportunity, best-on-best, to celebrate the sport. The experience for me has been absolutely fantastic. What I shared with my family in Vancouver and the guys in Sochi was something you want to be part of, and you want other people to be part of. It’s the thrill of a lifetime.”

And as Yzerman, France St-Louis and legendary Albertan hockey coach Clare Drake were awarded the Order of Hockey in Canada yesterday, Babcock reflected upon his mentor's legacy:

Aykroyd continues at length, and again...

Quickie update: For what it's worth, Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika believes that Mike Babcock shouldn't lose out to Patrick Roy when the Jack Adams Award-winner's named tonight (most people assume Roy will win, and the NHL's Broadcasters Association votes on this trophy, not the media):

JACK ADAMS AWARD (coach of the year): Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings

Nothing against the Colorado Avalanche’s Patrick Roy and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jon Cooper, but they benefitted from goaltending worthy of Vezina and Hart Trophy consideration. And as Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean can attest, that can make you look very smart when you have it – and suddenly not-so-smart when it disappears.

Mike Babcock might have done his best coaching job to date by guiding the Wings into the playoffs -- again. (A …
You could argue Babcock benefitted from some good fortune, too. Who predicted Gustav Nyquist’s goal explosion? No one. Not even Babcock, who would have pushed to put him on the opening roster instead of veteran Dan Cleary if he had.

But Babcock extended the Wings’ playoff streak to 23 seasons despite an erosion of talent over the past few years and an injury epidemic this season. While his best players were out – including captain Henrik Zetterberg and dynamo Pavel Datsyuk – he stayed afloat with kids and AHL call-ups. He pushed everyone to compete and play the right way.

Widely regarded as the best coach in the NHL, he has never won the Jack Adams because his teams have been too good to exceed expectations and we have almost taken him and the Wings for granted. After the season in which he passed Jack Adams to become the Wings’ all-time wins leader among coaches, he should finally get his due.

Cotsonika continues and makes his other picks...

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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.