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Wings' coach uses others as an inspiration

by Phil Coffey / Detroit Red Wings
Mike Babcock has one word for his Red Wings these days -- Battle.

Like a lot of teams around the NHL, the Wings have been beset by a staggering number of injuries. But to Babcock, that's not an excuse. A factor? Perhaps. But in the coach's mind, the Red Wings need to take a look around their community and follow suit.

"Being frustrated is just an absolute waste of time," Babcock told reporters. "It's about being positive, digging in and staying within the structure. It's all part of life. Times are tough here in Detroit for people. Are they giving in or are they battling? We have to do the same thing -- battle."

Veteran Kirk Maltby admitted to being surprised by the long injury list, but again, no excuses.

"To have as many significant injuries as we have -- I don't think I've ever seen this on any team I've played on or any team I know about," Maltby told Chris McCosky of The Detroit News. "It's up to the guys that are in the lineup to get the job done. There are no excuses; there never has been."

"We just have to keep getting the group to play hard, play for one another and believe in the structure, because the structure will protect you when people aren't available," Babcock said.

Kids are all right -- Perhaps the Red Wings can look to the New Jersey Devils for inspiration. The Devils also have been beset by a lengthy list of injuries to key players like David Clarkson, Patrik Elias, Rob Niedermayer, Dainius Zubrus, Jay Pandolfo, Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya and remained one of the NHL's top teams.

"I was surprised," coach Jacques Lemaire told Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger about the Devils' young players. "I was surprised to see them at camp. One of the first things I said to Lou (Lamoriello) was, 'You have good kids in the organization.' And they have more that are not here right now and in a couple of years they will be here."

Lemaire views the contributions of players like Niclas Bergfors, Mark Fraser, Matt Halischuk, Matt Corrente, Vladimir Zharkov, Tim Sestito and Tyler Eckford as vital in New Jersey's success this season.

"Where would we be without the kids?" Lemaire asked. "In trouble. Big trouble. Especially with the injuries. If you try to fill in with players that are not ready to play, you just can't win. Let's face it. We're surprised with all the wins we've got with the kids. I know there were a lot of close games, but we found a way to win."

Welcome aboard -- One of the nice touches of working for the NHL is when a new employee comes aboard, the staff receives an email introducing the new employee and providing a brief bio in addition to contact info.

Needless to say, I haven't seen a welcoming bio like the one that came across the laptop earlier in the week.

"Please welcome Brendan Shanahan to the National Hockey League. Brendan joins the Business and Media Department.

Brendan recently ended his 21-year NHL playing career as the League's 11th-leading goal scorer with 656.  He played on three Stanley Cup championship teams with the Red Wings and won an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2002.  He also served as an original member of the NHL Competition Committee."

Note to self, continue to keep head up when walking in hallways.

Well Said: "The bottom line is there's nothing I can say to a player that creates the kind of urgency in a player that sitting out does. Everybody wants a chance to display their talent. So that's ice time. In order to get that, you gotta compete hard enough and work hard enough to get that opportunity. When that's taken away from you, usually reality sets in in a big way."

-- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock

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