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Babcock spurs fashion statement

by Michelle Crechiolo / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT – Usually people, not silk ties, inspire cult followings.

But that’s precisely what has happened since Red Wings coach Mike Babcock led the Canadian men’s team to Olympic gold last month.

Babcock is a graduate of Montreal’s McGill University, and he’s famously sported his alma mater’s red tie in crucial games, whether it’s in the Stanley Cup finals or the Olympic gold medal game. Babcock’s teams are 6-2 when the coach wears the McGill tie.

The tie, which is now affectionately called the Babcock, has gained so much notoriety that the bookstore on McGill’s campus can’t keep the red neckwear in stock. The tie comes in red or navy and retails for $49.99.

“Immediately after the Olympics, we got about 10 requests per day,” bookstore manager Lawrence Marzette said. “I thought, ‘This is going to get out of hand really quickly.’ Then it went down to about seven, and now we sell about four ties a day. I love that it’s taken on this identity.”

The Babcock also has its own Facebook page (Mike Babcock’s McGill Tie) with more than 2,100 fans, and there’s a YouTube video with 5,589 views since March 18.

The clip follows the tie on its homecoming back to McGill after capturing gold. It’s treated like a celebrity, with students applauding it and actual McGill faculty and staff giving mock interviews about the tie.

Babcock said Monday that he’s seen the video, and his favorite part was where the creators discuss the arrival of the limited edition “Mike Babcock Signature” McGill ties, where part of the proceeds will go to support the university’s men’s hockey team.

“I liked the fact that at the end some kickback was going to the athletic program at McGill, which is real positive,” said Babcock, a defenseman at McGill from 1983-87. “I think any time you can support the people that helped you, that’s a positive thing.”

The actual tie that Babcock wore during Canada’s 3-2 overtime victory over the U.S., is now on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

While Canadians can’t seem to purchase the tie fast enough, some Red Wings’ players have been unfazed by the buzz it has generated.

Forward Jason Williams was unaware that Babcock had inspired a fashion statement.

“He just wears suits all the time,” Williams said. “Being from western Canada, I can’t see him being too much into fashion.”

Marzette said that while the sales of the tie after the gold medal game were the highest they’ve ever been, he can’t imagine what will happen if Babcock coaches the Wings to a third straight Cup finals.

“There’s no way we’ll be able to keep stocking the ties,” Marzette said. “I think the ties would go global this time. It would be amazing.”

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