"People who don't live here have no idea what it's like here in Detroit right now. I just know in my neighborhood, and I live in a nice neighborhood, the foreclosures and the kids in my kids' schools that have to move and dads don't have jobs and people are helping them, it's incredible. "
-- Mike Babcock
There isn't a place in America that has been hit harder by the recent economic downturn than the Motor City. With the auto industry in shambles, factories are closing and workers are being laid off. Almost one in four people in Detroit is out of work.
Babcock would love to give the city a win Friday night against the Penguins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"People who don't live here have no idea what it's like here in Detroit right now," Babcock said. "I just know in my neighborhood, and I live in a nice neighborhood, the foreclosures and the kids in my kids' schools that have to move and dads don't have jobs and people are helping them, it's incredible.
"They don't get to come to the games, they cost too much. But they get to watch them on TV. And they get to enjoy it, and get as fired up as we do. And to me, that's a fantastic thing."
This isn't the first time the city is looking to sports to bring the city together during tough times. In the late '60s, Detroit was besieged by riots and civil unrest. And just like in today's Detroit, the city was dealing with housing problems and unemployment.
In 1968, the Tigers won the World Series, rallying from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals. While Babcock doesn't go that far back, he understands the importance of doing something to lift the spirits of a downtrodden city.
"The '68 Tigers was a ways off for me, I've got to tell you," Babcock said. "I told the same kind of story in the room today. I talked about the '72 Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup."
Boston was dealing with its own economic hardships during that time. New England as a whole was seeing a lot of its manufacturing jobs being shipped elsewhere, leaving many without work. Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr did their best to give fans something to be happy about, vanquishing the New York Rangers in six games in the Final.
Babcock hopes the Red Wings can do the same for Detroit.
"For us, in Detroit and in Michigan, this has been an unbelievable run for our city and for our state just because of the economy here and for the people," Babcock said. "It's been absolutely fantastic. Now we've got to finish it off."
Contact Dave Lozo at firstname.lastname@example.org