DETROIT >> Sometimes change is necessary.
And that’s just how Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg views the departure of Mike Babcock to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I want to thank Mike for the time he had here but I think both him and us probably decided it was time,” Zetterberg said after an informal skate at Joe Louis Arena with a handful of teammates.
After 10 seasons behind the Wings bench where he led the team to the playoffs every season Babcock landed an eight-year, $50 million deal with Toronto.
“I kind of figured that he was moving on and obviously the media attention all along was big, but for us players who weren’t playing we’re kind of on vacation already,” Zetterberg said. “We didn’t really get that effect of it but I heard from the guys who were around here still that it was a big deal.”
The team promoted Jeff Blashill, who had spent the last three seasons in Grand Rapids after one season as Babcock’s assistant in Detroit.
“I think he has a lot of knowledge,” Zetterberg said of Blashill. “When he was here last time he was really fresh. I think the time he spent in Grand Rapids was really good. He did a tremendous job down there with the kids and you’ve been seeing the product of him, when you see players like come up like Gus (Nyquist) and (Tomas) Tatar and (Riley) Sheahan and (Luke) Glendening. There are so many guys that went through playing for him and won the Calder Cup with him, so we’re excited and just want to get it going.”
The Wings also added through free agency defenseman Mike Green, a right-handed, power-play specialist, and another veteran presence in Brad Richards, who has his name on the Stanley Cup twice the last of which came last season with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Green is a right-handed shot, plays a lot on the power play, plays a lot of minutes and did a real good job in Washington,” Zetterberg said. “It’s kind of the defenseman we didn’t have, so it’s a nice addition for us. Also, Richards has been around for a long time, knows what it takes to go all the way and win and it’s going to be nice to have a veteran presence in the locker room.
“There are a lot of guys in here who’ve been through the same stuff for many years,” Zetterberg continued. “I think now with the new additions of Green and Richards, and the new coach, it’s given us a little fresh start. Obviously it’s going to be a different voice behind the bench and sometimes you need that.”
Zetterberg also welcomed a new addition over the summer when his Emma gave birth to their first child, son Love, on Aug. 20.
“First of all, we spent most of the summer in Detroit,” Zetterberg said. “It was the first time we did that. We really enjoyed it. Obviously we were a little nervous when it got a little closer but everything went well. Both Love and Emma are doing well.”
As for the choice of first name, “We knew if it was going to be a boy that Love was going to be the name early,” Zetterberg said. “It’s an old Swedish name and kind of getting popular again. (I) understand the confusion if you see the spelling in an American way, but you pronounce it LOO-vee over here and in Swedish it’s LOO-vay.”
Zetterberg didn’t finish the season the way he had hoped being held scoreless in the first round, seven-game series with Tampa Bay. That had never occurred in each of his previous 21 series.
Zetterberg, who had 17 goals and 49 assists in the regular season, had three assists in the series. He also struggled down the stretch scoring just two goals in his last 35 games.