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March 24, 2019
Mike Babcock Transcript
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
Q. It seems like each of these games has had its own sort of identity or personality instead of one sort of leading or following naturally. Do you think that's accurate? If so, why do you think that dynamic has been this way in this series the first six games?
COACH BABCOCK: Well, I think four of the games were anybody's game. I think two of the games were Game 4 and Game 5 to me were one team. I think they've both been momentum games where teams have carried momentum for large portions at a time, really tilted the rink. The other team looks like they can't get out of their end. And then the other team seems to come back, and it just goes back and forth.
We're not going to have to worry about any of that stuff now. It's just an opportunity here now for both teams.
You know, I have to tell you I've been real impressed. I think they played hard. I think our team has played hard. The playoffs for our team this year has been as big a battle as we've ever had for sure. Just with what's gone on and some of the injuries we've had and that. I've been really impressed with our team's will, and our guys' attitude over the last couple of days. Excited to go.
Q. I just wondered what do you think is gained for a coach or a player from winning a Stanley Cup?
COACH BABCOCK: Well, that you've won it. And that I feel different than I did last year before we won, just because of the fact you've won. What are they going to say? You didn't win? You did win.
So to me, and I talked to someone about that this morning. Scotty Bowman, in my opinion, at this time of year just became a regular deal for him. So he just did what regular things do. And that to me is what's important at this time of year.
Tomorrow's game, as much as it's something you dream about your whole life having this opportunity in Game 7, and I said this yesterday, in front of our crowd in this state with the city and the state and the way it is right now economically it's been fantastic. But it's a dream you've had. But now you get to control that dream. I think that's the best dream you could ever have. So to me it's just an exciting opportunity.
Q. You guys have built up a certain currency here with the success you've had. And the players that you've had through this room. Can you tell us how, if maybe something that Igor Larionov or Konstantinov, Shanny or Yzerman or Chelios has done here even 12 or 14 years ago. Does any of that stuff still burn today and does it give you anything tomorrow night?
COACH BABCOCK: I think all of that is really important. Mr. Lindsay's always in the opening meeting before each round. He sits right in the dressing room in his stall with our team. To me I think that's a privilege for a coach and a privilege for a player. And that Gordie comes in after the game or that Steve comes by, or that these players still care about being a Red Wing. To me, those are original six things that are very, very special.
But I bet the guys in Pittsburgh are thrilled that Mario still has a stall in the room, and that he's around there. I think that's what history is.
But when I came to the league, I don't know how many years ago now, it was seven years ago, we took our power play breakout in Anaheim that we still used today. And lots of teams in the league used by watching Larionov, and I did that when I coached in the minors here and I'd come to the games.
I watched how Larionov did it. I watched how the D drew the guy and then gave it to Larionov. We've done the same things here and then taken it. So there are little things Igor Larionov, and I want this to come out right here, down low in the zone and his one?on?one battles didn't battle. He just was smarter. He stood on the right side, waited for you to lose the puck, took it and went down the ice.
We've tried to do a lot of the great things that a lot of the players in the league do. We do a lot of things that Nick does, we call them Nickisms. We take clips during the year, and show them that at training camp. So to me, those are the things you steal from great players or they give you. I don't know if that answers the questions.
Q. Can you speak to home ice advantage? And part two, not so much, I know the final result of your Game 7 Cup Final in '03. But just your memories of those moments that build up in the game?
COACH BABCOCK: I just think that it was a series -- first I'll speak to home ice. We've just been way more comfortable on home ice in the playoffs. We were a great road team in the regular season. And we haven't been as good. I think we're 4 and 6 on the road in the playoffs. We've been way better at home, way more comfortable, way quicker, way more assertive. We look forward to that again tomorrow.
In saying all that, when you come out in this rink or come to the Joe, you're comfortable. This is where we work. This is where we live. It's our fans, it's our city. And we're proud to be from Michigan and have the opportunity we do in front of our fans. So I think that's comfort.
The second part of your question about last time I was in this situation I don't know how to describe it. A lot of winning has gone on in between then and now, and a lot of confidence with our group and in yourself has been built and you feel like you've been here before and understand about it.
I thought in that game that we were a very good team until they scored, and then I thought we were paralyzed. We started worrying about what wasn't going to happen instead of just playing the game. Sometimes I think that's what happens at this point is the prize gets in the way of just the execution and the details of the game. If you just do your thing, good things are going to happen for yourself.
Q. There's not a lot that this team hasn't experienced or done. But it hasn't played in a Game 7 in a Cup Finals is that something that matters or is that something the media talks about too much?
COACH BABCOCK: No, I think that matters. Someone told me it was '51 the last time the Red Wings were in a Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final. So to me, that's about an opportunity. What a great thing. Is it any different than the gold medal game in the Olympics, or the gold medal game in the World Championships? Or even for a kid like Abby, the gold medal game at the NCAA championships. Or for me when I coached in the CIU Championships or the World Junior? They're all one and done. So I think everybody's experienced this.
In saying that though, I'm still a big believer that the greatest prize in hockey, and I haven't been to the Olympics, so I don't know. But the greatest prize in hockey is the Stanley Cup. It's an unbelievable trophy. And just like they say at the start about winning the Stanley Cup, there are lots of people out here where I'm looking, guys covering the game that have won. To me, outside your family, it's the greatest thrill you'll ever have in your life.
Q. Have you gotten any sense from your guys that it's one game left in the season, no matter how tired and how banged up they are, they may have another burst of energy just knowing it's one more and they can just empty the tank going into tomorrow?
COACH BABCOCK: I think everybody thinks like that, for sure. I don't think anybody -- I don't think you can be tired now. I think that's impossible. I think you've got to be so excited.
I know for myself, I'm excited. I think it's a fantastic thing just to -- I've coached in one before for the Cup and to have this opportunity again is something. You can coach in this league forever and never get this opportunity. So the same for the players, what a great thing. To be able to share it with your family and your friends, it's fantastic.
Q. Are you so wrapped up in game plans and trying doing what you're trying to accomplish that you can't take a step back at any moment and say, you know, this has been one great series for someone that appreciates hockey? This has been one of the better series in my opinion in a long time?
COACH BABCOCK: No, I'm not so wrapped, I agree with you. We talk to our players about this all the time. I talk to my kids about that. And I talk to my wife about that. It's just life in general is, to me, about enjoying the opportunity you have right now, and I don't care what that is. As we know things change in life in a hurry, so enjoy the process and enjoy it.
The other thing I really liked about this series is there are great players going at it head-to-head. I think that's been fantastic. I thought Fleury, as much as Ozzie was good in the last game, I thought Fleury gave them an opportunity at the end. To me, those are great battles and things that happen in the series that are exciting. And I think this series is really good for hockey. I think these teams are playing well.
Q. How much is Brian Rafalski's experience, particularly in this situation, and his skill set valuable to this team right now?
COACH BABCOCK: Well, we asked him that in our meeting this morning. I went to Rafi right away. I said what can you tell us, Rafi? You know, he had some thoughts to share with the guys. But I think any kind of thing that's going to keep you poised and allow you to execute is a great thing. We'll see tomorrow.
Q. The '68 Tigers meant so much to this city. Though it's not the same type of problems that this city's experiencing right now. A lot of your guys talked about what this run has meant to the people of this town, giving them a chance to escape. Can you talk about what it's meant to you, and how you can feel that from the people who follow your club?
COACH BABCOCK: Well, the '68 Tigers was a ways off for me, I've got to tell you. I told the same kind of story in the room today. I talked about the '72 Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup. Then I said to Helmer, what year were you born? He said '87. I said, okay.
So when I was playing road hockey in Northern Manitoba at 9 years old, it wasn't that relevant to him.
I guess the point you're making is with the Red Wings, and with what we -- I think Michigan and I think Minnesota's like this, too. They're just parts of Canada that just got lost and they put down here and these people love hockey, absolutely love hockey. So to get to share this with them in the times -- and people that don't live here have no idea what it's like here in Detroit right now.
I just know in my neighborhood, and I live in a nice neighborhood, the foreclosures and the kids in my kids' schools that got to move and dads don't have jobs and people are helping them, it's incredible. They don't get to come to the games, they cost too much. But they get to watch them on TV. And they get to enjoy it, and get as fired up as we do. And to me, that's a fantastic thing.
I enjoy it. I enjoy being here in Detroit because the people care about hockey so much. When you go to Canada, it's the same thing. People love hockey like the people involved in the game do, and that's Michigan. So to share this with them is fantastic. We've been on a good run here for a number of years. Longer than I've been here, obviously. And they've come to expect us to be good.
Q. Is there anything that you can do to maybe make it easier for Hossa?
COACH BABCOCK: Well, the big thing Hossa has to understand is all he's got to do is do what he does. We've talked about that. I asked him who scored the goals for Detroit in Game 6 last year in the Final? He didn't know, and neither did I. That's the facts. But I knew we won. Doesn't matter who scores the goals, none of that matters. What matters is do your part and allow the team to win. He'll do that. He'll be great.
He was great in, I thought, Game 5. He'll be great tomorrow.
Q. One more thing about Rafalski, do you remember anything about him from that Game 7 in '03? And have you talked much about that at all?
COACH BABCOCK: Yeah, he told me we got out coached (laughing). No, we've talked a little bit, you know, over the year about it. All I know is that Rafi was a really good player. Their back end was phenomenal with Niedermayer and Stevens and Rafalski and White. That was pretty impressive.
Now I don't mean to give a shot to the other two guys, but I don't remember who they were. (Smiling).
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The other New Jersey defenders were Ken Daneyko, Tommy Albelin, and Oleg Tverdovsky.)