Tag Archives: mike babcock

Helm ready for move from center to wing

DETROIT >> With the abundance of centers on the Wings’ roster, coach Mike Babcock has to move at least one or them to wing.

The early candidate is Darren Helm.

“I’m going to start like that, I think,” Babcock said after watching a number of the Wings’ on-ice workout at Joe Louis Arena. “(I like) his tenacity, pace, heaviness on the puck and because I’ve got to have room for other guys, I think he can help.”

The move to wing also brings Helm a promotion to one of Detroit’s top two lines since Babcock has him skating alongside Pavel Datsyuk.

“To give Pavel that tenacity to help Pav out a little bit,” Babcock said. “Helmer can play down low in the zone too a bit for him. This all depends on (Stephen) Weiss and his situation and how healthy everyone else is. Camp starts the 19th. That’s a chunk of time away.”

Helm said Thursday that Babcock first told him of the move during their end-of-season meetings.

“It’s not a huge shock,” Helm said. “Look around the locker room and we have six or seven NHL center-icemen so someone was going to have to change. And the guys that are coming up are great center-men. It’ll be fun to have a chance to play the wing with one of the best players in the league. I hope to find success, stay there and help this team win.”

Helm isn’t a stranger to playing wing, but it’s not as natural as playing center.

“I need to make sure the pucks on the wall are getting out,” said Helm, who recalled playing wing for one shift in 2010-11 season and roughly 15 games last year. “Besides that there isn’t a whole lot I need to change. Because of the way we play, first guy back in the zone he’s playing low anyway. There will be times where I have to cover the point so that’s another area I’ll need to work on.”

Helm could also use his speed more on the wing.

“Anytime the puck is going up the weak-side wall it’s an opportunity for me to push the pace,” Helm said. “I can open up some space for everyone else and if there are loose pucks I can chase them down. Both positions you have to use your speed at different times. It’s about using your brains and smarts to know when to use it.”

Along with Datsyuk, Helm and Weiss at center, the Wings also have Riley Sheahan, Joakim Andersson and Luke Glendening. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen can also play center.

“I had a lot of centers for Canada at the Olympics,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s just play hockey. I tell you what, the forwards, there’s a jam here for players. We’ve got good players. You’ve got a lot of forwards coming at you. She’s open on the back end. There’s a chance to make the team there.”

Babcock has Sheahan centering one of the bottom two lines, while Glendening and Andersson will battle to center the other line.

“(Helm) has a lot of speed and a lot of skill,” Zetterberg said. “I think it will free up Pav a little bit. They really have to worry where No. 43 is on the ice and with Pav’s skill and the way he can pass the puck it could be a good weapon to have.

“The other thing too now that we’re all healthy, we have a lot of center-men,” Zetterberg added. “Everyone can’t play center, so we have to put someone on the wing.”

The Wings’ top four centers that began the season – Datsyuk, Helm, Weiss and Andersson, along with Zetterberg – were all sidelined at once at one point last year.

At training camp, Babcock will have Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Weiss be first-line centers on their respective teams.

Holland gets four-year deal keeping him with Wings through 2017-18 season

DETROIT >> Ken Holland is back to having some job security.

Heading into the final year of a contract, plus an option year, Holland has agreed to a four-year extension that will keep him as the Wings’ general manager through the 2017-18 season.

“Ken is regarded as one of the premier executives in the National Hockey League and has been instrumental in the success of the Red Wings over the last two decades,” Wings owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement.

In all 17 seasons in Detroit, the Wings have qualified for the playoffs every season and have won the Stanley Cup three times.

“Marian and I are extremely pleased that he will continue to lead our hockey club over the next four years,” Ilitch continued in the statement. “We feel strongly that stability is key to the success of any organization and having this new agreement in place with Ken is important to the organization and its future.”

Since Holland, 58, took over as general manager in 1997, the Wings have won more games in the regular season (746) and playoffs games (115) than any other franchise.

Holland, who’s been with the organization for the past 31 seasons, began working as a scout before becoming the director of amateur of scouting and then assistant general manager.

Now the focus will be getting coach Mike Babcock signed to an extension.

“We work well together,” Holland said at the end of last season. “He and I we want to go farther.”

Babcock is heading into the final year of a contract that pays him roughly $2 million a season.

“I’m real comfortable with the owner and the manager,” Babcock said at the end of the season. “That’s not a concern for me one bit.

“When you’re at the stage of my career that I am, I’m real comfortable with whatever they want,” Babcock continued. “I want them to be happy. If they’re not happy then I’m not happy. I have no problem. I can go year to year.”

Babcock just wrapped up his ninth season with the Wings after they were eliminated in five games in the first round of playoffs by the Boston Bruins.

It’s the second time in the past three seasons Detroit hasn’t made it out of the first round. They haven’t advanced past the second round the past five postseasons.

Asked if he thought he would talk about a contract extension over the summer Babcock said, “I doubt it. I just told you I’m comfortable. If I was uncomfortable, if this was my gig I’d want an extension, it’s not, I’m good.”

Babcock, 51, set a franchise record this season with his 415th win, passing Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams in the process. He’s led the Wings to a Stanley Cup and a two conference championships.

“I want him back behind the bench,” Holland said. “I respect the job he does for us. I respect his work ethic. I respect the job he did putting the young players into our system and sticking with them. I think if you write down a list of the best coaches in the National Hockey League he’s on that short list. I think many would have him on the top of that list.”

Babcock has also led Canada to two straight Olympic gold medals.

There had been rumors circulating awhile back that Babcock could eventually take over for Red Berenson as the head coach at the University of Michigan.

“I never even thought about it,” Babcock said when asked if he had a few more years in him to coach in Detroit. “My daughter’s going into her grade 12 year. I’m either going to be the coach of the Red Wings or, I haven’t had a talk with Red Berenson yet, either that or I’ll be Red’s assistant coach for a year.

“For sure I’m staying in Detroit,” Babcock added. “I haven’t thought about going anywhere else. I’m real comfortable. I know Scotty Bowman went year to year sometime here and I’m real comfortable with that. I can get a job. I’m not worried about that. The owner has been better than great to me. They do things right. They treat people right. The GM is a driven guy who can’t stand losing and I like to be around ultracompetitive people.”

Wings lock up their insurance policy, Blashill, if Babcock bolts after next season

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings have locked up Jeff Blashill to keep him in the organization for three more seasons.

The move to keep him as the Grand Rapids Griffins coach gives the Wings an insurance policy if they are unable to work out a new deal with Mike Babcock, who’s heading into the final year of his contract.

“He’s very happy where he’s at,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in an interview last week. “I think he’d like to spend another year or two in the AHL, getting more experience coaching pros.

“He wants to be in the NHL but he’s got family in Michigan and enjoys where he’s at in Grand Rapids,” Holland added. “I told him some teams have called, he’s happy where he’s at. He’s happy to be in Grand Rapids for at least another year, maybe two. See how it goes.”

Holland called the salary increase “significant” since Blashill is being patient for another year or two.

Blashill spent one season in Detroit, where he was in charge of the power play, after leaving Western Michigan University.

“He can continue to develop, evolve as a coach in hopes that there continues to be interview opportunities in the next couple of years,” Holland said. “He’s very happy where he’s at.”

Blashill guided the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 seasons during his one season in Kalamazoo. His squad also made it to the CCHA tournament championship game.

“Mike Babcock identified Blash as a guy who’d be great on our staff,” Holland said. “He did a tremendous job turning around Western Michigan. A year under Mike Babcock in Detroit was beneficial and positive for his career.

“We wanted somebody who had aspirations to move on and bring in some energy,” Holland continued. “He did a fabulous job in Grand Rapids.”

Blashill won the Calder Cup with the Griffins last season.

He’s also played a key role in the development of the players in Grand Rapids, which showed as many of them helped in getting the Wings to the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season.

“We’ve seen in Grand Rapids over the last year, year and a half … scouts identified good players and Jeff Blashill has done a fabulous job in the development of those players,” Holland said. “If Blash really wanted to pursue a head coaching job, we would support him.

“It’s an important time in Detroit,” Holland added. “We’re trying to develop another group of players who’ll be key contributors to us having playoff success. It’s important that they learn to win the American Hockey League level. This season and next summer is a critical time in Detroit as we transition young players into being Red Wings. Jeff Blashill is an important guy as we go through that transition. He’s excited to continue to have an impact on the Red Wings.”

Blashill has also been an assistant coach at Ferris State and Miami University. In 2009, he was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice, a Tier 1 junior hockey team in the United States Hockey League. In his only season there he guided the Ice to the championship.

Blashill played goal for Ferris State from 1994-98.

Datsyuk opts for rehab over surgery to repair ailing left knee

DETROIT >> Will he or won’t he need surgery?

It looks like he won’t.

Pavel Datsyuk appears to be leaning toward an aggressive rehab to strengthen his ailing left knee, according to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“As of right now I don’t think he’s having surgery,” Holland said in a phone interview. “He’s begun some offseason workouts in Detroit. We’ve asked him to stay in communication.”

Holland said coach Mike Babcock introduced Datsyuk to a local trainer to begin a rehab program to strengthen his left knee in order to avoid going under the knife.

“He’s pushing hard and we’re going to continue to monitor,” Holland said. “If nothing changes, he won’t have surgery.”

Holland added that Datsyuk will be re-evaluated in possibly a couple of weeks.

“We asked him to push hard,” Holland said. “At the end of the year he had no pain. That’s why the doctors said they can’t recommend surgery if he doesn’t have pain.

“The hockey people felt he had a quickness to his stride in playoffs,” Holland added.

Datsyuk will be in Detroit for another month to hopefully help fix the ailment.

“As we go along, if he has no discomfort or pain we’ll do no surgery,” Holland said.

The Wings announced they were shutting Datsyuk down for three weeks at the trade deadline due to inflammation in his ailing left knee, which wound up being four weeks.

He missed 16 straight games, but returned for the final six of the regular season.

Detroit went 8-6-2 in those 16 games without their shifty forward.

Datsyuk, who turns 36 on July 20, had 17 goals and 20 assists in 45 regular season games.

“He has an ability to change the game,” Babcock said last season.

“He slows the game down,” Darren Helm said of Datsyuk. “He plays with so much poise and skill he backs the other team’s D off a lot.”

Datsyuk, who wound up missing 30 of the final 40 regular season games, played all five games in the first round series with the Boston Bruins, leading the team with three goals and five points.

Datsyuk played for Russia at the Olympics.

Babcock named finalist for Jack Adams Award; Nyquist: “He’s a great teacher.”

DETROIT >> For just the second time in his NHL coaching career, Mike Babcock has been named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given annually by the broadcasters to the league’s top coach. Continue reading

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock opened up his morning meeting with the media by a follow up to a statement he made Wednesday regarding the birth and pending birth of newborns for two players on his team … Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall.

“I would assume that they’re both playing (Datsyuk and Kronwall),” Babcock said Wednesday. “They’re not giving birth. Their wives are. One has and one is.”

Datsyuk just had a daughter, while Kronwall’s girlfriend is expecting to give birth soon.

“Just before we get started I got an email from my wife that said I’m not allowed to say the things that I said yesterday about giving birth,” Babcock smiled on Thursday. “So I apologize. I said I didn’t realize you guys were that sensitive. So I’ll clear it up today.”

Advice for Franzen: “Get on the inside.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock made one simple statement when asked about Franzen’s struggles,” Get on the inside.”

In his last 21 games, playoffs and regular season, he has one goal, seven assists and a minus-5 rating. In the previous 23 games, he had 13 goals, 16 assists and a plus-14.

Franzen is third on the team in shots on goal through three games with eight.

“Even if I’m not scoring that’s not what I’m doing for this team,” Franzen said on the eve of the first round series with Boston. “It’s not why I go out and play games to score goals. I’ve got a lot of things to do before that. It’s not even fifth on the list, probably, when you go out to a game.”

In his last 30 playoff games since the start of 2011, he has seven goals (one game winner), four assists and a minus-8.

In his previous 51 playoff games from 2008-2010, he had 31 goals (nine game winners), 28 assists and a plus-29.