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At the Rink blog

Past relationship for Babcock, Hitchcock

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 2:20 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Past relationship for Babcock, Hitchcock
ST. LOUIS -- New Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and his Red Wings counterpart, Mike Babcock, are friends -- good friends, as a matter of fact.

The two go back a long way with Team Canada. Babcock was the head coach and Hitchcock was an assistant for Canada's gold medal winning squad at the Winter Olympics of 2010.

The two have also coached against one another plenty in the Western Conference, with Hitchcock having stints in Dallas and Columbus.

"I worked with Hitch at the Olympics," Babcock said. "I got to know him good then. When he was let go in Columbus, he's a hockey junkie and so I talked to him a lot. When you talk to a guy a lot, he ends up knowing how you're thinking and how your team's playing. He's a smart hockey guy and he's going to do a good job here. They've got themselves a real good coach."

There was some discussion this past summer about Hitchcock joining Babcock's staff in Detroit as an assistant but that never materialized.

"We talked about it, but I think both of us felt that I still wanted to be a head guy," Hitchcock said. "I think he wanted to get young energy in there. I was probably too old for his staff. We talked about it, though.

"We're good friends. We went through the toughest experience you can go through in life, and that is to represent your country. We came out OK. We did it together. There was a good feeling amongst the staff and especially with Mike and I because we had a major responsibility game planning, scheming and stuff like that."

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The Red Wings will be without Ian White indefinitely after the defenseman suffered a broken cheekbone during Saturday's 5-2 win over Dallas, the Wings' fourth straight win.

It means Mike Commodore, who's only played two games because of a knee sprain, will be slotted into the lineup and play on the third pairing with Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson moves to the top pairing with Nicklas Lidstrom.

"I'm thinking he'd be a good matchup guy," Babcock said of Ericsson. "Move the puck six feet at a time, and do what you do well: be physical, play hard."

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In talking to Babcock in previous years, he's always been a big fan of the Blues.

"I just think they've been a good team here for a long time," Babcock said. "Probably a playoff team, but they've run into some injuries. It hasn't gone as good as they wanted.

"I thought Andy Murray did a good job with them, I thought Davis Payne did a good job and now 'Hitch' has got a more finished product here. It looks like they're deep in all positions. They're playing hard and they're playing what I think is right and well."
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