So you don’t like the way Mike Babcock coaches? You don’t like his aggressiveness or grind it out practices? Well the Red Wings coach has two words for ya…
Okay maybe he doesn’t but during an interview with 105.1’s Ryan and Rico Thursday morning, Babcock was pretty candid when addressing the rumors that it was his coaching style supposedly keeping top-notch free agents from signing with the Wings.
“If you don’t want to be coached, don’t come here,” Babcock told hosts Ryan and Rico. “If you want to be pushed to be the best that you can be, that’s what we do here. The proof is in the pudding.
“Am I warm and cuddly every day? I am with my family.
“I think I care a lot about my players. When you care about people, you make them do it right. When you don’t and there’s lots of coaches that don’t, then their teams don’t do it right and they don’t have success.
“We just have the hard meetings. We get it out front. Does it piss people off once in a while? Absolutely. But it also leads to behavioral changes and getting things better. So you know what, I’m not apologizing for that stuff at all.”
Then again it may be kind of crazy to think that any free agent out there would be turned away by Mike Babcock or the notion that he may not be able to make them a better player considering what he’s been able to do. Lets not forget Babcock currently has a Stanley Cup Championship under his belt along with multiple appearances, two Olympic gold medals coaching Team Canada and the stigma of being able to get the most out of his players while getting them to the next level despite injuries or a shallow talent pool. On top of all of that, Babcock will also soon reach the 500 wins plateau as a head coach this upcoming season.
But are we dealing with the same type of player we were 5, 6 or 10 years ago? Could there be more self-entitlement in today’s player who may want the quick payday without having to put in the extra hours at practice? Furthermore would Ken Holland, Mike Babcock and the rest of the Red Wings organization even want to concern themselves with that type of soft player?
Of course I’m speaking on hypotheticals but the point is there.
Babcock went on further talking about the idea of free agents not wanting to come to Detroit because of him. Specifically the media possibly starting the rumor by themselves:
“I think it’s easy to stand on the sidelines and second-guess everything all the time and I think that’s what you get paid to do and the more controversy you can create in the media, the more they like you and the more bloggers we have, the more controversy we have, but that’s all part of the sport,” he said. “What I’ve found is if the people in the hockey department make the decisions, we’re employed. When we start looking for answers in the media, then we’ll be in the media soon.”
Babcock also mentioned that the team did target free agent defense upon the start of NHL free agency. Reports were pretty strong that the Wings had their eyes set on Matt Niskanen, Dan Boyle and Anton Stralman who eventually signed elsewhere which isn’t any indication that they’re a soft player not willing to play for a hard-nosed coach like Babcock or the Red Wings are a dying franchise. I’ve always maintained that the Wings didn’t want to pay the money Niskanen eventually got with Washington considering his lack of consistency over the years. You can say somewhat of the same thing about Stralman while Boyle perhaps was captivated by the New York market and the fact that the team went to the Stanley Cup Finals this past season.
Finally, Babcock addressed his pending contract negotiations as he heads into the final year of his deal with the Wings.
“Maybe [free agents] don’t want to come because Mike Babcock has a one-year contract,” he said. “If [the Red Wings] are concerned about [free agents not liking him], then I should coach somewhere else.”
To further elaborate on the contract situation with Babcock, he mentions he likes being in Detroit and loves the Wings’ devotion to winning while calling his relationship with Holland and second to none. Earlier in the week, Babcock also told reporters that he would only discuss a new contract during the Summer months. Once the season started he would halt those negotiations until the season is finished.
In the end it still seems rather silly to think that any type of player devoted to winning and getting better would pass on a chance to play for Mike Babcock. There’s other circumstances when it comes to making your decision (playing near home, money) which are certainly understandable, but anyone holding onto the idea that a player spurning the Wings to play somewhere else is Babcock’s fault may be looking into the situation a little too much.
h/t: 105.1, Kukla’s Korner, CBS Sports, theScore