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Mike Babcock Winter Classic Postgame

Thursday, 01.01.2009 / 6:50 PM / Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009

By NHL Public Relations

Q.  Mike, was it as great to be on the bench as it looked like it was?

COACH BABCOCK:  Oh, it was fantastic.  You know, the City of Chicago in itself is special.  And then Wrigley Field and then they march out all these people that you watched as a kid, and, I mean, the whole atmosphere and the crowd and the professionalism.

And I think the Chicago Blackhawks are going to set a new standard for the NHL in marketing.  And I was very impressed with today.

Q.  How would you judge the conditions of the ice overall today?

COACH BABCOCK:  I didn't think it had a factor.  The puck seemed to really bounce off the goaltenders a lot.  That's probably to do with being cold.  The guys were telling me you get a little tightness in your chest, you don't last as long on the ice.  But other than that, I didn't think conditions had any bearing on the outcome of the game whatsoever.

Q.  I believe you used to coach in England at Whitley Bay.  When you were at the northeast of England, did you ever imagine you would be sitting on a bench like this on such a day as this?

COACH BABCOCK:  Never thought about it, obviously.  Enjoyed my time in Whitley Bay, obviously.  I was a player then.  And coaching, when you're a player, is totally different than with your suit on.  I was fortunate to have a great time with the people there.  It was a great year.  I remember when we went to Wembley and lost in the final there, it was a great thrill even as a player at that time.

We're real blessed here in Detroit to play in the Stanley Cup Final.  A lot of us got to be involved in the All Star game last year, and then to be involved in this event in a calendar year, pretty special.

Q.  Mike, obviously the two points you get for winning this game are the same you get for any game.  But I'm wondering if there's maybe a boost that you think might come from winning in this atmosphere and with the spotlight on the team.

COACH BABCOCK:  Well, you want to win this game because 10 years from now, when they ask you who won the Winter Classic, you get to say, "We did."

But the points are very important, and we came in here, Chicago basically with games in hand, if they kept winning, caught us.  And suddenly it was a good swing for us.
 
The other thing that was very apparent for me, and we've seen it when we played San Jose and a couple other times this year, is the opposition helped us get ready two nights in a row here.  And when you have a good opposition, you know, I think it helps on your team right here.  We haven't been emotionally engaged every night all year.  And so this was helpful.
 
And plus it's exciting.  I don't can if you're Chelios, if you're 46, or you're Draper and you're 37, or you're Hudler.  I mean, it's a thrill to be out on the ice.

Q.  Just a couple of things.  First of all, is that chapeau now going to be part of your wardrobe permanently?  And the other thing is:  Describe the feeling of walking out there and seeing these 40,000 people, even though most of them are chanting "Detroit sucks."  What was it like when you're looking around, you're looking at the bleachers, you're looking at people sitting on the rooftops?

COACH BABCOCK:  We talked a lot about that, taking it all in as a group.  You've got to enjoy the moment.  We talked about that last year during the Stanley Cup playoffs, too.  I really believe you should enjoy the process of what you're in and take it all in.  Then when the puck's dropped, let's get playing.

It was fantastic just being involved in the event.  And, like I said, the Chicago Blackhawks and the National Hockey League I thought did a really good job.  The only thing I would suggest is a little more free stuff for the coaches would be the only thing.

(Laughter).

COACH BABCOCK:  I'm just kidding you.

I thought it was a great event, and I thought to be part of it is special.  Now, I assume some people's seats were a little far from the action, but just to be involved in the event, to me, is a special thing.

Q.  And the hat?

COACH BABCOCK:  The hat.  It was Paul Boyer, our trainer, came up with the idea, Toe Blake and all that, and just old time hockey.  He thought it would be appropriate.  We needed something on our head, we thought.  We didn't realize the benches were going to be quite as warm as they were.  Probably didn't need it, but that's what that was about.  And, no, I won't be donning it again.

Q.  Mike, a two parter.  If you could you tell, what was your favorite part of the day?  Outside of the outcome, do you have a one favorite moment?  Two, can you just comment on Hudler's play today?

COACH BABCOCK:  Hudler, he's a sneaky little guy, obviously.  Real talented.  The puck follows him around.  That's what good players do.  He's like Kane that way.  He's not as dynamic a skater, but the puck just follows these guys around because their hockey sense is so good.

A fair part of the day for me I think just coming out and the excitement of the people and the weather and the facility.  All that just being a part of it, I think, was special.

I think over the two days, though, is having your kids and being on the ice with them in the practice yesterday was, our guys were like they were 12 years old out there.  And to me, and that's the answer to your question earlier.  That's what makes it so good.  It's energizing.  It's not Ground Hog Day again.

In the National League lots of times it's Ground Hog Day.

Q.  What do you think maybe turned the tide in the second period?  You allow a late first period goal.  That can be tough sometimes, but you turned it.

COACH BABCOCK:  We didn't think we were very good in the first.  We gave up three power play goals.  Two of them we had the puck getting out of the zone.  Just that.  And we talked about doing what we're supposed to do.  We didn't think we did it in the first period.  So we just got in   I thought Maltby did a real good job.  You could hear him talking to the guys about what we needed to do and talking about our plan and getting back at it.  We've got a good hockey team as you know, experienced group that don't get rattled very easily.  You want to be proud of each other.  So we thought we better get going.