Monthly Archives: April 2015

Babcock in ‘driver’s seat’ when it comes to where he’ll coach next season

DETROIT >> Will he stay or will he go?

That’ll be the question lingering around Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings until a decision on his future is made either by the coach himself or the organization.

Babcock is scheduled to meet with general manager Ken Holland on Friday morning prior to the team photo and locker cleanout at Joe Louis Arena.

Will a decision be announced after that?

That seems highly unlikely.

Babcock, who turned 52 on Wednesday, wants to weigh his options, and with coaches still in place at his possible landing spots, he can do that.

“He’s in the driver’s seat,” Holland said. “He’s one of the top coaches in the game, if not the top coach and he’s in the prime of his career.
“Our hope is that Mike wants to stay,” Holland continued. “He’s positioned himself to have the option to explore.”

His contract doesn’t expire until June 30, which means he can’t talk to any other teams until then. He’s searching for a deal that would pay him close to $5 million a season.

The only thing that would speed up the process is the Wings deciding to not give him a contract and pursue his replacement, which could come within the organization in Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill.

Babcock said after the Wings were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for a second straight season Wednesday that he wasn’t going to discuss his future until he meets again with the media after locker cleanout.

He just wrapped up his 11th season in Detroit, earning roughly $2 million a season.

The Wings have not made it out of the second round of the playoffs since losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final in the 2008-09 season, the year after Babcock won his only Cup in Detroit.

They’ve also been eliminated in the first round three of the last four seasons.

“We want him back, I’ve expressed that,” Holland said. “He’ll have a lot of say in how it all plays out.”

Babcock wants to win.

He’ll be the first to tell you that.

“I just thought our team played hard and we gave ourselves an opportunity but you want to win,” Babcock said after the Wings’ 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7. “I want to win. In order to do that, you’ve got to score more goals and you got to find a way to win the series, bottom line right there but we didn’t get it done.”

And with that said, Babcock shed some light on how he perceives the Wings’ current roster and that their future looks like.

“I would tell you this, that our team isn’t as good as it was,” Babcock said. “It was very evident we battled our butts off to get in the playoffs. They picked us, whether you guys know what you’re talking about or not, they picked us to miss the playoffs and then no one even picks us to win in the playoffs. I thought we gave (Tampa Bay) a real good run for their money to say the least.”

His main focus appears to be on the core group – Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall – which isn’t getting any younger.

“You are what you are and (the Lighting) have a young team that they were bad here for long enough that they were able to rebuild it,” Babcock said. “Good, young players and they’ve got young players in key positions. Three of our best players are 34, 35, 37, so any way you look at it, we’re a team that’s changed a bunch of players. We’re a team that’s added a lot of youth to the lineup. Right now on the outside they don’t pick us as a Stanley Cup contender.”

Datsyuk turns 37 in July, Zetterberg turns 35 in October and Kronwall turned 34 in January.

The Wings began the process of incorporating young talent and needed to do so rapidly because of injuries two seasons ago to extend their playoff streak.

They also have a number of highly talented players in the minors.

Babcock, who has led Canada to two straight Olympic gold medals, was offered a four-year deal in excess of $3 million a season that would have made him the highest paid coach in the league.

Babcock said if a deal wasn’t in place before the season began he would not discuss a contract until after the season.

Quote of the day … Petr Mrazek

DETROIT >> Petr Mrazek on his unbelievable save on Brian Boyle, who had a wide-open net, but the Wings netminder reached back and swatted the puck out midair with his stick to keep it out.

“It’s a lucky save,” Mrazek said. “If you put it on the ice or higher that’s a goal, it’s just one of the lucky ones and for the fans nice save.”

Zetterberg still has yet to score in series

DETROIT >> Henrik Zetterberg is on the verge of doing something he’s never done as a member of the Detroit Red Wings … not score a goal in a series.

Zetterberg has scored in each of his previous 21 series with the Wings.

“Obviously you want to produce more than I have done,” Zetterberg said. “I had more looks during these games. Game 1 and Game 2 I didn’t play good. After that it’s been better, but obviously it would be nice to see the back of the net.

“You just try to do everything right,” Zetterberg added. “Play good defensively, good at face-offs, and try to lead by example. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Zetterberg has three assists through six games.

“I haven’t (talked to him) and I’m not going to either,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Just play hard (Wednesday) and do a good job.”

He has just two goals in his last 35 games dating back to Jan. 27.

“I think Hank’s doing a lot of good things,” linemate Justin Abdelkader said. “Hank’s a player that even if he’s not on the score sheet he’s going to positively affect the game. He’s our leader. Playoffs are all about different guys chipping in. It’s not always going to be your big-name guys. You see (Steven) Stamkos over there hasn’t scored any goals. I imagine they’re talking about him, too. I think playoffs are about your depth as a team, different guys chipping in. It’s not always going to be your all-stars or superstars.”

Zetterberg does have a knack of stepping up in the big game. In six previous Game 7s he’s appeared in, the Wings captain has three goals and three assists.

Wings didn’t expect NHL verdict on Kronwall … he’s suspended for Game 7 against Tampa Bay

DETROIT >> The worst case scenario has happened to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings will be without defenseman Niklas Kronwall for Game 7, Wednesday night at Tampa Bay, after he was suspended for one game by the league for a hit he had on Nikita Kucherov in Game 6.

The league said Kronwall was suspended for “charging.”

“I thought it was a good hit,” Wings coach Mike Babcock prior to finding out what the league decided. “I thought it was, you know he (Kucherov) was leaning back, trying to get out of the way. Kronner’s foot was on the ice when he made contact, elbow tucked in on the side. It went
through him.

“If you go through the series, in Game 2 (Ryan) Callahan did the same to (Danny) DeKeyser. (Monday) night, was it in the second period or the first period, (Ondrej) Palat got (Luke) Glendening exactly the same way.”

Kronwall was not penalized for the hit, during which his elbow made contact with Kucherov’s head as the second period drew to a close. Kucherov, but was back for the start of the third period.

Kronwall is their top defenseman and logs the most ice time of any player and playing in all situations.

“I’ve seen it many times, a lot of slow-motion,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I think when the contact is made his feet are on the ground. His follow through, I think, hit’s his head, but he has his arms down. His elbow is down when the contact is made, and just got to wait to see what the league thinks.

“He’s a real important for us,” Zetterberg continued. “He plays a lot of minutes, so we just got to wait and see.”

Rookie Alexey Marchenko or Jakub Kindl will be in the lineup.

Wings’ Eastern Conference semifinal schedule … should they advance

The NHL released the semifinal schedule.

Here’s the dates if the Wings win Game 7, Wednesday at Tampa Bay.

#1 Montreal vs. #3 Detroit
Friday, May 1, 7 p.m., Detroit at Montreal … CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Sunday, May 3, 6 p.m., Detroit at Montreal … CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Tuesday, May 5, 7 p.m., Montreal at Detroit … USA, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7, 7 p.m., Montreal at Detroit … NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9, TBD, Detroit at Montreal … CBC, TVA Sports
*Monday, May 11, TBD, Montreal at Detroit … CBC, TVA Sports
*Wednesday, May 13, TBD, Detroit at Montreal … CBC, TVA Sports

Kucherov on hit by Kronwall: “He made a hit. I’m not going to cry now. It’s a part of the game. That’s why we play here.”

DETROIT >> Some of the focus after the Wings’ Game 6 loss to the Tampa Bay Lighting Monday was the hit Niklas Kronwall delivered on Nikita Kucherov.

Late in the second period, Kronwall dealt his crushing blow as Kucherov was trying to leave the Lightning’s zone.

Kucherov went straight to the Tampa Bay locker room.

“I mean, it’s intense game, and those things happen,” Kucherov said. “It’s just hits. It’s just a part of the game.

“Not really,” Kucherov added when asked if he had seen the replay. “I saw it I think once, but I couldn’t see the whole thing.”

There was no penalty called on the play.

“It’s a hit,” Kucherov said. “He made a hit. I’m not going to cry now. It’s a part of the game. That’s why we play here.

Kucherov, who said he was fine after the hit, assisted on the first three goals the Lighting scored.

“I haven’t seen it in replay so I really can’t say too much about it,” Kronwall said. “I thought it was a clean hit at the time.”

When asked if the momentum forced him off his skates Kronwall said, “Yeah, usually when you go, the impact itself carries you up.”

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper also said he didn’t see the play.

“It was on that part of the ice that I didn’t see,” Cooper said. “The refs didn’t call a penalty so it must have been OK.”

Henrik Zetterberg thinks it was a clean check.

“When I saw it, it was a clean, hard hit,” Zetterberg said. “He had a good timing there, Kronner, and I don’t think their player saw him.”

The hit was delivered with the Wings trailing 3-1.

“For sure,” Tomas Tatar said when asked if the hit gave the Wings a lift. “He hit Kucherov, one of their good players. Playoffs are a tight game, lots of hits. One of these hits will get the team going, get the building going. We felt like we were on the horse. We let them score the goal 4-2 and kind of took us down.”

Loss of Glendening sparks Lightning comeback win

DETROIT >> With seven minutes and 28 seconds left in the third period, the tide of the Wings’ best-of-seven shifted for their favor to Tampa Bay’s all because the loss of one player … Luke Glendening.

Glendening went out after getting into a scuffle with Victor Hedman after suffering a right-hand injury and needed to be stitched up.

Glendening didn’t return to the game.

And during his absence, the Lightning scored three unanswered goals, all from their triplet line, to even the series with Detroit, 2-2, after a 3-2 win in overtime.

“I’ve watched him in the minors,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “I watched him play when they unfortunately beat us in the Calder Cup. He’s, I don’t know how to describe, he’s an extremely responsible player. There aren’t a lot of guys out there like the Glendenings. He’s done a heck of a job on our guys.

“To lose a player that plays an extremely important role for them, you look back know because we came back to win the game, so it was potentially a huge factor,” Cooper continued. “He’s a good player for them. There’s no question it had an effect because the triplet line there. They just have a vibe going on that first one and for him not to be around I’m sure there was a little bit of an effect.”

Glendening’s line, with wingers Drew Miller and Landon Ferraro, had put the clamps on Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov for nearly six periods at Joe Louis Arena.

That was until Glendening wen out.

“Obviously it was big play in the game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I really thought we should be going on the power play there but I can’t control those things. Obviously getting his hand cut and missing the rest of the game matchup-wise, Johnson’s line got the next three goals.”

Johnson scored his first of two with 5:26 left in regulation and Glendening off the ice getting stitches after him and Hedman were sent off for roughing.

Johnson setup Palat for the equalizer just over a minute later.

“That’s just the way the game goes,” Glendening said. “Obviously I was frustrated not being able to be out there. He’s a dynamite player and when he gets time and space he can do special things.

Then, Johnson ended it just 2:25 into overtime.

“I don’t know, you’d have to ask Johnson,” Babcock said when asked why Glendening is so good against the Johnson line. “He’s a good player, he plays hard, he can skate. We think he’s OK. Just like all injuries in playoffs. You really don’t know until game time but the doc says they sewed him up and he’s going to be fine.”

Johnson now has four goals and an assist in the series.

“Just trying to limit their time and space,” Glendening said. “Miller and Ferraro have been great, trying to control the puck when we can. Blocking shots.”