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Babcock speaks on eve of Canada-USA

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
VANCOUVER -- Mike Babcock met the media for 15 minutes in a press conference at Canada Hockey Place on Saturday. What follows is a transcript, in Q&A form.

Mike, you've talked at great length about what this opportunity means for the players and really for all Canadians. What does it mean for you?

"The first thing is obviously I'm real honored to be named and given the opportunity. To get to know the guys and spend time with the coaching staff has been fantastic. It has made me a better coach for sure. To share this with my kids and my wife and extended family and Canadians has been fantastic. What I always say to myself and what I tell my kids is, 'You do the best you can each and every day and you get up the next day and you get on with it.' That's what we are trying to do here, we're trying to get better each and every day, and that's all you can ask. We have an opportunity and in this go-round it's a second chance because the first time we had (Team USA) we didn't get it done. So, we've got a second chance and we'd like to make good on it. They'll be two good teams playing (Sunday) and someone is going to be happy and we expect it's going to be us."

Does Sidney Crosby's line have to produce for you guys to be successful in the gold medal game?

"No. We'd like them to score and they'd like to score, too. I've talked to Sid about this in the past, in his run to the Stanley Cup last year he didn't score much in the Final, but he played well without the puck and he helped his team win, and that's what it's about. It doesn't matter who scores. I mean it doesn't make any difference what the name on the back is, we just have to find a way to get more than they do, right? So, we expect those guys to play hard tomorrow and be physical and play with good pace and play real well defensively and do that to be successful. The night they had against the U.S. they were dashed three. We can't have that."

How important is it to solve Ryan Miller and have you had any discussions with Lindy Ruff about him?

"For starters, we play against him a little bit so I know him pretty good that way, and Lindy knows him real good. He's played real well in the tournament. I thought in particular in the game against us and the game against the Finns, that part of the game was one-sided. So, we have to make sure we're real strong in our own net and then we have to go get him. On any team you identify players. I just got their stats in front of me and it looks to me that (Brian) Rafalski has got eight points, so he must be important. (Zach) Parise's got seven, so he must be important. Then I look down here at the save percentage and it's 95.37. You don't have to be that smart to figure out who is important. You just have to figure out a way to solve it. We need traffic, we've got to go get him."

I think you know how important it is to this country and these Olympics, so does that make your job and the job of the players easier or tougher?

"Don't get me wrong, we'd like to do it for the country. We'd like to do it for everybody involved. But we'd like to do it for ourselves first."

To follow up on Ryan Miller, you said last night you guys were too easy on him the first game and this time it's going to be different. What's the difference going to be?

"Well we have to be at the net and we have to get more second chances. We had lots of chances, but we didn't have a lot of hard chances against him. So, we never got into their D enough. They spent a lot of time around the front of their net and made it hard. I mean the chances we had, they looked like a good chance, but against good goalies you're not going to score unless you have traffic or a second opportunity."

Mike, do you remember where you were in '72 (when Paul Henderson scored to lift Canada to a 6-5 win in Game 8 of the Summit Series against the Soviet Union; Canada won the series with four wins, three losses and one tie)?

"I was in Leaf Rapids, Manitoba. I remember in school my teacher was Mr. Jeffries and we didn't have a TV in the classroom so he just ran back and forth down the hall to tell us what was going on. You know, I was a kid starting to play hockey and I really liked hockey and it's a fond memory. But there are lots of great memories over the years of hockey and winning. The Americans, I imagine it's the Miracle. My kids watch that (movie) and think it's great; I don't think it's that great (laughs). It all depends on what you're into.

"What I always look at is sports are a funny thing. You never know if you're ever going to get this chance and if you ever do get this chance you want to make good on it. The other thing, I thought the other night we were fine for 54 minutes and if you stop playing the chance of you winning is unlikely. Getting off to a good start in these momentum games is no different than a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final. Getting started is very important because sometimes your own emotions get the better of you. I don't think that will be any different tomorrow."

Do you view pressure as something good in this case?

"Oh, I think pressure is a real positive. I wouldn't be doing what I do if I didn't love it. I mean, it's about adrenaline and you're an adrenaline junkie if you're in sports. All you have to do is watch the skiers and watch the speed skaters. The highs are very high. If you have been in the Olympic village all week like I have, you have seen people totally elated and you've seen people totally crushed. But the reason they are in it is because there are two sides of the equation. That's what makes your job exciting and I think that's what this is all about. The people in Vancouver, when I walk around this city, are so jacked up to be Canadian right now, and to be here at this event and enjoy it. I think it's all fantastic. To me, I think the good part outweighs the pressure."

What adjustment in forwards locked it in to give you the kind of lines you wanted?

"Against the Russians I thought it was the (Jonathan) Toews line, having (Rick) Nash and (Mike) Richards with him. Last night I thought it was (Brenden) Morrow with (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Corey) Perry. Who knows from night to night? That's the idea of depth in your roster. You have an opportunity for different people to pick you up on different nights. Right now we like the balance of our group. I watched the game against the Americans this morning and I said to the coaches, 'I didn't like our lines then as much as I like them now.' But just because I liked them last game doesn't mean I'll like them the next game. We'll be ready to adjust them if we need to."

Did you hear what Robyn Regehr had to say about the game tomorrow? He said if the Americans win they'll probably make another movie about it, so we don't want to see that happen. Do you have any reaction to that?

"Well, I like his way of thinking. You know what, the reality is if you're the Americans, you won the World Juniors and your ladies were right there knocking on the door and now you're in this situation, you have to be pretty happy about your hockey program. I think the Canadians feel exactly the same way. I said it last night, I think for years to come here I think the Americans are going to have a strong program. As we have seen the nations are getting closer and closer. I thought the Slovaks looked very good last night. It used to be that we had better goaltending than everyone else and we used to win World Juniors just because of our goaltending, but everybody has got good goaltending now and everyone has good players. It's obviously an international game and you want to win when you get the opportunity."

You've coached against Ryan Getzlaf in big games and now you're coaching him in big games. What is it about him that makes it the bigger the game, the better he plays?

"He's just a gamer. I think Ryan is a heck of a player. I said to him earlier in the tournament, when I didn't think he was great, 'Ryan, we've been playing in heated battles for three or four years and every time we play against you, you play great, so let's step it up and be like that here.' I think he has. Getzy is just a big man. He's got great vision. He's a fierce competitor and he doesn't mind getting his nose dirty. We need him to be great tomorrow."

Would you believe when you were playing for the Whitley Warriors two decades ago that you would be leading Canada into a gold medal game at the Olympics?

"My job when I led the Whitley Warriors, the way I became a good coach there is I got the guys to drink on Monday and Tuesday instead of on Friday and Saturday. Hey, who knows why things happen?"
Before we played the Russians I didn't think we had to say anything because we were very activated to say the least. Yesterday we pushed them way harder because we knew. I asked the coaches, 'Do you feel the same way as you did when we played the Russians?' They said no, so we knew right away that was going to be different. I imagine tomorrow we're going to be prepared - Coach Mike Babcock

On three occasions in your NHL career you woke up with a chance to win a Stanley Cup. Do you sense tomorrow is going to be the same feeling?

"You know, it's interesting and I talked to Jacques Lemaire about that this morning and he knows way more about winning Cups than I do. You know, I can tell you this, I'm not giving my Stanley Cup back. This is a great opportunity. The Stanley Cup is a marathon of hope. It's unbelievable and it goes on forever. I remember when I was in Anaheim, Mike Scioscia was the manager of the Angels and he told me they played 52 ball games during our run for the Cup. That's how long it is. This is a short tournament and it's a different thing because it's not your guys, you don't know them as good and you have to get them to come together in a short period of time.

"But it's still a special, special thing and what I do know is whether it was the team I coached at the University of Lethbridge, when we won a national championship, or a World Junior team or a Stanley Cup team or a World Championship team, if you win together you walk together forever. I really believe that. You remember those guys and you remember something special and you have tons of fond memories of it. So, here's an opportunity of a lifetime and you want to make good on it. That's what everyone came to these Olympics for, to be the best they could possibly be, and we have a shot and we'd like to be it."

Are you one to give impassioned speeches and will you before Sunday's game?

"Before we played the Russians I didn't think we had to say anything because we were very activated to say the least. Yesterday we pushed them way harder because we knew. I asked the coaches, 'Do you feel the same way as you did when we played the Russians?' They said no, so we knew right away that was going to be different. I imagine tomorrow we're going to be prepared. One of the things is we don't want to be overprepared or be overactivated. We want to come out and play hard right off the hop. So controlling your emotions will be key. But I've been known to do the odd bit of talking and I've been known not to say very much."

How do you explain the last eight and a half minutes of last night and is there a concern about a carryover effect?
"It's interesting, I said this to Hitch (Ken Hitchcock), in the 2008 World Championships, I watched those games and Hitch is known to be a defensive coach, and I said to him, 'When I watched those games I thought you guys got careful.' I was thinking to myself that it was probably Hitch that got them careful. Well, I can tell you that's not how I do it at all. I was trying to get the foot on the gas and let's go after them and let's go after them. It just didn't happen.
"Sometimes when you want to win so bad, I think you get in the way of yourself. I have seen it before in the Stanley Cup Finals. Your team plays with poise all year long and you've got grown men, veteran guys and suddenly you get to the Stanley Cup Final and you got guys that play with poise all the time playing like little kids. But that's what makes it fun, too. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to be in our zone like that. I was scared to death when they started going, 'We want the U.S.' with 14 left minutes to go. I was thinking, 'My god, they have no idea what's really going on here.' You know what, the thing I liked about that is when something goes wrong you get an opportunity to respond. I thought that was a great message to our team yesterday. We felt it. We have gone through a lot of adversity in this tournament and that will help us tomorrow."

What difference has the goaltending change (from Martin Brodeur to Roberto Luongo) made to your team?

"That's a good question and if we had gone with Marty he would have been fine, too. It's just that was the decision we made. We set up at the start of the tournament to have one chance and Lu has gone in and the team has played well. Lu has to be good tomorrow and he knows that. It's interesting, we all have these opportunities in our careers to make a name for ourselves and he has that opportunity. Some people might think that's pressure, I think it's just the opposite. Why wouldn't he want to be great? He's a great big man, this is his home building and he's gotta love it when they go, 'Luuuuu.' I would. I think it would be great. So, be good tomorrow. Have fun and enjoy the opportunity."

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