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Babcock to coach West squad in Atlanta

by Derek Gluth / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- One member of the Red Wings has already been named an All-Star.

Coach Mike Babcock will be heading to Atlanta to coach the Western Conference All-Star team at Philips Arena on January 27.

Babcock will coach against John Paddock of the Ottawa Senators, the point leaders of the Eastern Conference. Both were selected based upon the total point percentages through Jan. 4. Detroit and Ottawa with 61 and 54 points, respectively, hold enough of an advantage to guarantee the trip for both coaches.

The Red Wings (29-8-3) have compiled a league-best, nine-game winning streak this season, which included a three-game sweep on a trip through western Canada. It was the first time in franchise history that the Wings had swept three games in a swing through the western provinces.

The Wings also put together a seven-game streak.

The All-Star selection is the first for Babcock who is in his fifth season as an NHL coach, and his third with Detroit, where this season he celebrated career win No. 200 on Dec. 15.
The last time Detroit had a coach in the All-Star game was Dave Lewis in 2004.

“It's a real honor,” Babcock said. “It means you've got a real good team and real good players. I'm excited about doing it.”

It’s expected that Babcock will be surrounded by many familiar faces in Atlanta. The Wings have three of the top four vote-getters in the Western Conference: defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

“I'll have to tell my family they're not going skiing at Boyne Mountain, I don't know how excited they'll be about that,” joked Babcock last week. “Hopefully we can make it a family time, and I can bring my whole family and enjoy the time with them.”

Last season, Babcock became the second-fastest NHL coach to win 100 games with a team. He also became the first Wings' coach to lead the club to back-to-back 50-win seasons.

This season he can become the first coach in NHL history to guide a team to three consecutive 50-win seasons in his first three seasons with a team.

“We've been on a good run here since I've been in Detroit and we've won a lot of games with a lot of high-end players who play real hard and play real well,” Babcock said. “It's great to be part of a franchise that's doing good things on a consistent basis. And obviously, when the team does well there's lots of individual successes a long the way.”

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