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Game 4 pregame quotes: Mike Babcock

by Staff

Q. You were in this situation in the last round against Colorado. Is the message exactly the same to your team going in the fourth game with a 3 0 lead, as it was then?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I mean, it's a different series. It's hard to say that. It worked out well last time. I think part of the reason it did was we were mature, stayed focused and played a really good game. And I think that's what we have to do here, is we've got to be really focused. And we tried to get that back on track here today. They're going to have a huge push, we understand that totally. In saying that, we have to push them as hard as we've pushed them all series, and harder. And we're optimistic. We're capable of doing that. So we're going to prepare hard, and then try to play real well. And tried to look at the mistakes after last night. I thought the second period we got turning the puck over too much and the momentum went the wrong direction. We can't let that happen tomorrow.
Q. Can you talk about Pavel and Henrik, the impact they're having in this series, not just offensively, but all around?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: This is how they play. So there's no surprise for me. It's how they play. They play hard. And I think when you have your best players, offensively, that are your best defensive players that work harder than anybody else, it's a good message for the rest of the group, they better do the same. And I think they're elite League players. I've been saying it now for two years. They've both gotten better offensively. Pavel has gotten significantly better defensively. But they're complete players, and they have great will. The two of them together, they speak the same language on the ice. They move the puck well and they're competitors.
Q. They've been criticized in the past for not being able to get it done in the playoffs and obviously they're kind of blowing that out of the water this year. Can you talk about that transformation.
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: They did it last year. The only time that Pavel was accused of not getting it done in the playoffs was he missed 18 games and played on one leg against Edmonton three years ago. But people gotta write stories. So that's what they do. But the people in the know, know that they're complete, good players. And I mean, they're gritty, competitive guys. They're not going to run you over, but they're going to finish their checks and you're not going to back them off. They're just going to keep coming. We're fortunate, like I said, that our best players, and you can put Nick in that group and Rafalski in that group, not only are they elite players, but they're elite competitors.
Q. Quick follow up to that, is it a luxury as a coach to get your best players in any situation, because some guys, if a team's taking penalties, they can't get their best forwards in the game, how much of a luxury is that for a coach?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I guess it's a luxury, but what you do is you put them out there in those situations over and over and over again until they do it right. And you don't let them off the hook. You make them check the best players. We went through the process a couple of years ago. We alternate who matched up, Pavel would match up then Zetterberg would match up and then Draper would match up. We'd go night to night and we'd give them the hardest matchup, because in our opinion, that's what you have to do. We do the same now with Filppula and we do the same with Franzen. We think the best players have to play both ways, that's the philosophy we have. And I guess you get lucky and they can do it. My point, when you're the coach and you have to hide your best players, when you have to avoid matchups and they don't get on the ice enough they get frustrated and sometimes you're telling them they're not good enough to play in those situations. And to me that's not leading to the win in the end.
Q. These guys didn't come to your team as fairly complete players. They had to be put into the program and made into something else?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I don't want to say that, because these guys are great players. I guess you can look at a guy like Steve Yzerman, did he get to become a more complete player when he played? Obviously. You look at the best players in the League, that's what happened. When I came here Pavel Datsyuk was a starter. He could still stick handle in a phone booth and do all that. Now he's just more dominant, all over the ice. He didn't use the penalty kill. He's a dominant penalty killer. A dominant faceoff guy. He's creating the last minute of the game in the first minute of the game, up, down, whatever. He's evolved. Now, I think that's part of the expectation that's put on him here, and that's part of being a Red Wing. And Zetterberg was always a great defensive player, but he never shot the puck. Now he shoots the puck more than anybody in the League, not quite as much as Ovechkin. So he scores all the time. And the other thing that happens over time you earn the right to feel confident. No coach gives you that, your parents don't, you go out there and earn it by doing it and having success over and over again. Then what happens is Filppula starts trying to do the same things you do and Franzen starts doing them and it's contagious. When you've got a professional like Nick Lidstrom who sets the tone, that doesn't mean you'll be successful every game or every year or all the time. But I think if you just keep knocking on the door, you have a chance. That's what we try to do.
Q. Mike, Ken Allen was just telling us when you first arrived he encouraged you to kind of develop a relationship with Scotty, bounce some things off of him back and forth. Could you just talk about how that relationship has developed?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, Scotty and I had a relationship that started basically when I coached Anaheim and we beat Detroit in the first round. He wasn't a coach anymore. But that's kind of how we got started. And then during the lockout year we were in the world championships together. And basically what I did is even when I was putting together my staff I phoned him. Some of the guys had been on his staff before. So we talked about how he put together a staff. Then we just kind of got to the point that we've become good friends now. We talk about hockey, but we talk about life and he's a good man and you know I'm big into that, life long learning. I think Scotty is the best in that in the game. I think he continued to change from decade to decade and he had a passion for it and he still does. We talk all the time. He's always saying, did you see this? Did you see that? Where are you going to watch the game. He's an energized gentleman who has been probably different than a lot of people would perceive Scotty to be with me, anyway, has shared anything I've ever asked of him. So we've got to be good friends now and I enjoy it a lot. It's great to be able to call the best coach of all time any time you want and say: What do you think about this? We talk about matchups all the time. We talk about who he thinks is the best player. We don't always agree, but that doesn't matter. I think when you have a sounding board, sometimes that's very, very effective.
Q. You mentioned confidence. How much a part of that is in what Hudler is doing for you guys in the playoffs?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: When your fourth line left winger has, I don't know how many points he has, 12, but he plays on our power play and he can play. Everything about Hudler, he's a little guy, but he's competitive. He's strong. He holds onto pucks. Like the goal he scored last night, he's as good as anybody on our team in finding the space. And that's what the Red Wings were about for years and years, before the cap world, was that the fourth line could score. Everyone else checked, but theirs scored. And I think obviously if you have Larionov and Robitaille on it, that's going to happen. But when you have Hudler and Helm, they've given us a goal. They gave up a goal last night when they didn't get the puck out of the zone. And Mac gave up a goal to Grossman down the backside. But then they went and got one back too, and I thought it was a key in the game.
Q. You talked about your relationship with Scotty. Your team plays very similar to some of his great teams back then. Is that not by coincidence? Is that the philosophy of the organization? Has that always been your philosophy?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: No, I mean my philosophy changes with the players. So what I do when I go someplace is I try to win. So whatever our skill set is, that's what we do. When I came here, I was defensive coach and now I probably am still a defensive coach. I don't know what they call you when you move on. They call you something else, you're a college coach, junior coach and minor league coach, then you're something. My point being, you always evolve. But the centers that we may have in Detroit, since I've come here, and the back end allows you to play a little different game. Then when you get used to having skill, you want them to play like that, and then it becomes contagious right through. We talked about it with Zetterberg and Pavel. When Filppula watches those guys play, he wants to try it. And Franzen wants to try it. And Cleary hangs on more. We talk about that every night. Hang onto to the puck. We thought in the second period we were giving the puck away. No wonder you're playing defense all the time. So to answer your question, I don't know if it's just having better players, if it's an overall Red Wing thing. If it's something that Nick Lidstrom is so good at that he gets the puck on people's tape, so they're going fast so they can't hang onto the puck, I don't really know the answer to that. But what we try to do is we try to steal from everybody who does it, does the best. If Dallas does something better than us, we try to steal it. We actually try to come up with our own ideas once in a while, but we borrow lots of stuff, too. So whatever we can do to be better.
Q. Do you remember watching Scotty's championship teams with the Red Wings and thinking that is a style you would like to coach?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I always told Ken Holland I was going to be the coach of the Red Wings. He didn't believe me. When I was a minor league coach for Detroit and Anaheim, I used to go to the games all the time. I remember in '02, when they were down, I sat with Kenny for the first two games when they were down in Vancouver and didn't look like they were going to win then. But you're hopeful you'll get to coach a team. There's only 30 jobs in the League. Everyone knows all this stuff. I think as the playoffs go on, you get less people to talk to, so we talk more about this stuff. (Laughter) But the reality is, there's 30 jobs, but there's some great jobs. I happen to have one of them. I work for a great owner and a general manager and assistant GM that love hockey and work 24 hours a day and they love players, love skill. When you're coaching and the people you work for just keep bringing players, it's a good opportunity. There's other jobs in the League, they're all great jobs, don't get me wrong. Some just have a better opportunity for you to be successful if you do a good job yourself.
Q. One quick question about Franzen. Any report or update on his status?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: As is. So basically he's been checked out. His condition remains the same. And so he's not playing in Game 4. And that's all I've got.
Q. Your contract situation, do you even think about that? Does that even enter in your mind at all?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I think about it every day. (Laughter) No, I'm staying in Detroit. I mean we'll get all that worked out. I'm optimistic. No, I know that we'll get it worked out and it's just some details, that's all.
Q. Do you have any interest in getting it done before the end of the playoffs?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I don't have any interest in doing anything that is about anything except the Red Wings and about winning, that's it. It's about trying to win, that's all.

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