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Notes: Babcock, MacLean to match wits

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Paul MacLean spent eight seasons as an assistant to coach Mike Babcock; MacLean is now in his fourth season as head coach of the Red Wings' Atlantic Division rivals in Ottawa. (Photo by Getty Images)

KANATA, Ontario – Mike Babcock doesn’t spend a whole lot of time pondering his legacy.

But when he looks over at the Senators’ bench tonight he’ll be confronted by one of his former assistants, who left Detroit for the unique chance of joining him as a head coach in the National Hockey League.

“I don’t know about legacy,” Babcock said following Tuesday’s morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre, where the Red Wings will face-off against Paul MacLean’s Senators tonight. “What’s important to me is those are good men, they’re good people and they grew their career through working hard and being diligent and being good men. Now they’ve gone on.”

There’s no denying the impact that Babcock has had on the coaching careers of several former assistants. MacLean, Todd McLellan and Bill Peters – all former Babcock understudies – owe a debt of gratitude to their former boss.

“The opportunity that I have here came from the opportunity with Babs in Detroit and having success, with the success of the organization,” said MacLean, the recipient of the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best coach, for the 2013 season.

MacLean was an assistant with Babcock beginning in Anaheim in 2002-03, and remained on his coaching staff for eight seasons, which also included a Stanley Cup run in 2008.

Meanwhile, McLellan is in his seventh season as head coach in San Jose, and Bill Peters is in his first season in Carolina.

“Mac’s having good success, Todd McLellan’s having real good success, Billy Peters is just getting started,” Babcock said. “Every C.O. in every business, to me, if you have a succession plan, if you have people around you, you’re helping to grow people. We want to grow players, we want to grow management people, we want to grow coaches. So I think that’s what the business is about.”

Beginning his fourth season as the 10th head coach in Senators’ history, MacLean coached the club to back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in five seasons. A former NHL all-star as a player – that included one season with the Red Wings – MacLean spent three seasons behind the Wings’ bench, learning the coaching trade from Babcock.

In a short period of time, MacLean has climbed near the top of the Senators’ all-time coaching victories list with a .653 winning percentage. His 108 coaching wins is just second to former coach Jacques Martin, who posted 341 wins in eight-plus seasons with the Senators.

Tonight’s Red Wings-Senators matchup will be the sixth time that Babcock and MacLean will go head to head as coaching adversaries. The Red Wings own a 3-2-0 record in the previous five meetings.

But don’t think for an instant that Babcock is interested in any teacher/student type of story line.

“I look forward to winning,” he said. “How’s that?”

Besides a Red Wings’ win, what Babcock would like to do tonight is perhaps learning something from his former assistant.

Kyle Quincey participated in Tuesday's morning skate, but he will not play against the Senators, missing his second straight game with as ankle injury. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

“Mac and I were together nine years, and so he would know me better as a head coach than I would know him as a head coach,” Babcock said. “In saying that, every time I bring new people in – we’ve brought a lot of them in – you steal things and ideas from what they do and you try to change and grow your game. So that’s all part of it.”

QUINCEY’S OUT: For the second straight game, Kyle Quincey will sit out with a sore ankle.

The 29-year-old defenseman was injured in a first-period collision with Los Angeles center Jarret Stoll last Friday at Joe Louis Arena.

“First shift I got run by Stoll, just went in to the boards awkwardly, on my ankle,” Quincey said. “He actually hit my ankle into the boards.”

Quincey skated the last two days at Canadian Tire Centre, but Babcock ruled him out for the game following Tuesday's morning skate.

“It’s not one I can just tape up either,” said Quincey, who is day to day. “So it’s kind of frustrating.”

Brian Lashoff, who logged more than 14 minutes of ice time in his season debut during Sunday’s shootout loss at Buffalo, will replace Quincey in the lineup against the Senators. His status for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden is uncertain.

JUST SCORE: In their last game, the Red Wings fired a season-high 38 shots on goal but managed just two goals in their loss to the Sabres. Babcock said his team did a lot of good in the game, but they have to get pucks beyond opposing goalies.

“When you get your opportunities, bear down and hit the net,” he said. “The other thing is the urgency you have at the end of a game has to be the same that you have at the start of the game. We didn’t play poorly. Don’t get me wrong. We created lots of scoring opportunities, but we didn’t find a way to finish. You have to find a way to finish.”

The Red Wings have a 2-2-3 record when scoring two or fewer goals this season. They are 4-0-0 when they’ve scored more than twice in a game.

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