Mike Babcock has won a gold medal at the World Championship level, a Stanley Cup title, and now Olympic gold after guiding Canada to its 3-2 overtime win over the U.S. last Sunday in Vancouver.
With his 47th birthday approaching in April, he feels he still has plenty of hockey left.
"There's this gold club (Triple Gold) that they had all the players go through, the guys that were in it, and that's the World Championships, the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold," Babcock said during Thursday's NHL Hour With Gary Bettman, referring to a ceremony held during the Olympic Games.
"Now that I'm a member of that, obviously I'm real thrilled. And saying all that, I don't consider myself that old of a man and I plan on being in the business a long time. I'm a coach, though -- I'm not a manager, I'm not a scout, I'm a coach. And I love doing it."
It's been a tremendously successful run for Babcock since he strayed from a possible career in engineering and got into coaching following his playing days at McGill University back in the 1980s. Stints in the WHL and AHL followed before Babcock emerged to lead Anaheim to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003. He got back in 2008 with the Red Wings and led them to the championship in six games.
Babcock got to experience a championship celebration on a whole new level Sunday when Sidney Crosby electrified all of Canada with his overtime goal. But his team had to face multiple forms of adversity before reaching that point.
It started in the second game of the preliminary round, when Canada needed a shootout to get past upstart Switzerland. Then, in the following game, the U.S. won 5-3, relegating Canada to the qualification round. In an odd way, that turned out to be a good thing, because it gave the players another game with which to mesh.
"I really thought the extra game for us against the Germans helped with that," Babcock said. "We changed our lines around, going into the third period when we were ahead, that set us up probably to help us be successful against the Russians, who in a lot of ways probably had the most talent in the tournament."
The gold-medal game didn't exactly go as smoothly as the fans at Canada Hockey Place and those watching across that hockey-mad country would have hoped, either. An early 2-0 lead was cut in half heading into the third, and U.S. forward Zach Parise scored with 24.4 seconds remaining to force overtime.
"We thought we were in good position to get the puck out of our zone. It never happened, it ends up in the back of our net. First thing I did was look up at the clock and I was thankful there were only 24 seconds left," Babcock said. "Because what basically that meant was if we could get through 24 seconds we have a chance to get to the room and get regrouped."
What was said in the dressing room before the overtime period?
"Our big thing to our guys was, one of you is going to be a hero within the next six or seven minutes. Make sure you play on your toes and not on your heels and collapse," he said. "And then obviously when Sid scored, great players do great things, and Sid hasn't scored in a couple of games. But they just seem to find a way. Iggy (Jarome Iginla) made a great play on the wall, and Sid was in home free and beat (Ryan) Miller to the deck. Miller was fantastic in the tournament, but in the end, obviously, we got one more."
Miller, who made an abbreviated appearance late in the show due to a visit from family, was asked by the commissioner what bringing home silver meant for the American program when little was expected of its young team heading into the Olympics.
"It's a great accomplishment," Miller said. "USA Hockey, they talked about turning a page and trying to move forward with the new group of guys. The same opportunity a lot of great Americans had, and they did us proud by winning a World Cup (in 1996) … so this is our first step forward and we felt like we handled ourselves really well."