DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock has always been a little harder on Tomas Tatar since he came into the league.
He’s able to do that mainly because he can take it.
“He responds,” Babcock said. “When you’ve got 23 athletes you’ve got to figure out 23 different ways to coach them because they’re all different. Some you treat different, that’s just the way it is.
“Tats is a guy who had high-end skill and he’s determined to score,” Babcock continued. “We want our guys to be determined to score and determined not to get scored against.”
However Tatar is being treated, it’s working so far.
“He is really hard on me, but I think he means this in a good way,” Tatar said. “He’s just trying to help me out since I got here. I appreciate it, but sometimes it’s really hard. That’s just the way he coaches me. I guess he doesn’t know any other way to work with me, so I appreciate it.”
Heading into play Saturday, Tatar is third on the team in goals (10) and tied for third in points (17).
“He’s hard, demanding,” Tatar said. “He’s been a good coach and we’ve had success under him. It’s just the way he is and I respect that.”
Tatar came into Saturday with points in three straight games and in nine of the last 11.
“Tats had a slow start point-wise but at the same time he was creating a lot of chances,” Gustav Nyquist said. “The puck just wasn’t going in for him. Lately it has been. It’s just a matter of time when you’re creating as many chances as Tats does for this team he’s going to score eventually.
“I don’t think anyone’s been worried about Tats,” Nyquist continued. “He’s going to be a good player for a long time. He loves scoring goals and he’s going to keep producing offense for us.”
The Wings rewarded Tatar this past offseason with a three-year deal with an annual salary-cap hit of $2.75 million. He’ll still be a restricted free agent in 2017 when the deal expires.
When last season began Tatar could not find his way into the lineup, playing in just one of the Wings’ first nine games of the season. He finished with 19 goals, had 20 assists and was a plus-12 in 73 games and helped lead the team, along with a number of other young forwards, to the playoffs.
Babcock really likes Tatar’s upbeat personality and how he’s able to keep a smile on his face at all times.
“That’s what you want,” Babcock said. “It’s not just on a team, it’s in life, it’s in your company. There are two options: You can have the Duracell drainer, you sit next to them, they suck the life out of a Duracell battery. Or you can have someone who’s the Energizer bunny and changes everybody else up. We get to choose our attitude every day in life and he chooses his good and he energizes the group. So it’s real good to have him.”
Tatar was the American Hockey League MVP after leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to win the 2013 Calder Cup, scoring 16 goals to go with five assists in 24 games.
“There’s a reason to be smiling, I’m part of this team,” Tatar said. “It’s been my dream to play in the NHL, so I don’t see why I should be sad. So every day when I walk in here I have a big smile.
“I hate (being in a) bad mood, so I always try to make people laugh and try to bring the energy and put a smile on everyone’s face,” added Tatar, who was the Wings’ 60th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.