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Babcock ahead of Leafs vs. Rangers

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs



Here's what Mike Babcock had to say following Leafs practice on Feb. 17...

Is the emphasis on structure as the team looks to hit the reset button?

No, I think the emphasis is on structure every day and being determined and being prepared. When I look at our Ottawa game and I look at the game in Chicago, to me we weren't prepared enough, weren't determined enough, weren't structured enough. As a team you are what you are but you've got to maximize the group and go from there.

Is it tougher to keep this a safe place for players closer to the deadline and after tough results?

No, I mean, I don't think so. I think we've looked after them real good. We talked about that today. If you play real hard and you get prepared and you stay determined, you play with structure and you play real hard you can walk around town, go for breakfast, life is good, people like you, it's no problem. If you don't get prepared and you play with determination and you don't play with structure, it's not as much fun to be around town. We're around town, I don't know if you noticed the schedule, we've played 23 home games and 32 on the road. We've got the most home games of anybody left, let's be good.

Have you noticed around town that people are receptive to what you're trying to do?

They sure seem like that to me. It's interesting, I got a text from a buddy one time, a buddy in Spokane who follows us -- he follows us all the time and watches and he sends me a text one day, "Don't worry about the naysayers." I text him back, "I didn't know there was any."

Is there a different vibe around the group without Dion?

Dion is a good man and he's got some energy about him and he's on top of guys, which is a positive thing. But I think Polie and Hunny and Leo and those guys, Grabs, have really picked up and done their part. There's no question we traded a good player, we understand all that, we know what we did hockey-wise. The people part of it will take a little bit.

Will you have any of the guys who are injured back tomorrow?

No. By the next game we should have a chance.

Is there any chance Lupul may be shut down?

That's the great thing about being the coach, you're not the medical person. They haven't told me that yet. Obviously, like anybody, you're doing your best to get them back and get them healthy so they can help the team.

On the Rangers blueline as an offensive catalyst like Chicago:

Yeah, different -- and I'm not trying to take anything away from Chicago because they were great the other night and they picked us apart -- but I'd like to play right and then be able to evaluate them. Ideally we're going to play right against New York. They're well-organized, they play hard, they've got good players, they're going to make it hard on you, their goalie doesn't let much in. In saying all that, we've made it hard on lots of teams in lots of games this year and there should be no reason we don't do that tomorrow.

Any sense of what happened to Hunwick in practice?

Yeah, we just gave him the boot.

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