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Zeisberger: Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s geared up for an Olympian campaign

The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger spoke with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock about his Olympic aspirations, and while the Wings' coach is living the American dream, the man is as dedicated to--as he likes to put it--"sport" (instead of sports), and this February, he's going to soak in the Olympic experience.

Ahead of a season in which he's got to balance shifting to the Eastern Conference, dealing with those dang 24/7 cameras and the Winter Classic hubbub, heading to Sochi to coach Team Canada and then returning Stateside to prepare for a playoff run, Babcock's pumped up for all of it--especially the part where he takes his family to the Cacausus Mountians in February:

“The Olympic opportunity is as much fun as you can have, especially last time when I got to share it with my family,” Babcock said. “I’m not sure it will be the same this time, but it’s still going to be great. A lot of it has to do with your growth and development as a coach. If you want to be at the top of your field, it’s about life-long learning.”

Babcock’s desire to one day wear a Canadian jersey at the Olympics dates back to his childhood. Because his dad worked in the mines, the family moved frequently, relocating from Northern Ontario to the Northwest Territories to Saskatchewan.

“As a boy, I dreamed of being an Olympian and one day representing Canada as an athlete but I wasn’t good enough,” Babcock said during a one-on-one sitdown with QMI Agency. “And so, now to represent Canada as a coach, it’s special. It’s not just about hockey. It’s about something bigger than hockey. And people who don’t watch sports watch the Olympics. I remember my mom (Gail) watched the Olympics and didn’t watch sports.”

As for the pressure of having the hopes of an entire country resting on his broad shoulders, Babcock embraces it. His ability to embrace the potential scrutiny that lies ahead comes from some advice he received as a kid from his father, Mike.

“I learned to work hard from my dad,” Babcock recalled.”As a kid, I remember going to the mines one day. I said: ‘How do you get guys to work hard, dad?’ because he was a pit boss. He said: ‘You can never ask anyone to work harder than you are willing to work yourself.’ I try to live that today.”

Continued, and my goodness, is this a Babcockian story...

Update: And the story does not stand alone. It includes a photo gallery narrated with "5 Keys for a Team Canada Olympic Repeat" from Babcock. These two are very important:

2. The Team Canada braintrust: A think-tank of ideas When it comes down to making key decisions, Babcock will be quick to pick the brains of his management team and coaching staff. In his opinion, Team Canada has some of the best hockey minds on the planet.

"To be around Claude Julien, Lindy Ruff, Ken Hitchcock, and then obviously our staff, Steve (Yzerman), Ken Holland, Kevin Lowe, Doug Armstrong, Peter Chiarelli, well, it's amazing," Babcock said. "You look at the amount of hockey experience and knowledge there, it's incredible. You want to be at the top competitive level at your sport and these are the type of guys that help you get there."


4. The Quest to Repeat: Preparation, preparation, preparation!In order to repeat, Babcock has adopted a 'gold medal or bust' attitude, one that was passed on to the players at the Olympic orientation gathering last month.

"You have to get better every day," Babcock said. "We had a gold medal summer camp. We need gold medal evaluation through the selection process. And then we have to get better each and every day or we have no chance at the end.

"The way I look at it, you get up in the morning, you do the best you can, then you sleep at night. I'm going to do that."

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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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