Monday Musings: Mike Babcock in 2018? Wait and see | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: Mike Babcock in 2018? Wait and see

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014 | 08:00 AM

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Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock conducts Feb. 10 practice at Bolshoy Arena during the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock conducts Feb. 10 practice at Bolshoy Arena during the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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This week's Monday musings takes a look at Mike Babcock's reflections on Sochi, the streaking Boston Bruins, the 2014 University Cup and the hot play of Johnny Gaudrea and Mike Cammalleri.

Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and the rest of the hockey world to prepare you for the upcoming week that will see:

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Stanley Cup victory with former head coach John Tortorella and the Vancouver Canucks visiting on Monday.
  • Patrick Roy returns to Montreal to play the Canadiens for the first time as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.
  • The playoffs begin in the WHL, QMJHL and OHL junior loops this week.
  • Zach Parise will visit the New Jersey Devils for the first time since he signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2012.
  • The six-team University Cup national championship tournament begins in Saskatoon on Thursday and concludes with the final on Sunday.

On Olympic threepeat

Moments after Canada won men's hockey gold in Sochi, Steve Yzerman told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com and TSN that he was stepping down as Canadian Olympic team executive director.

The hockey world learned shortly after the Winter Games about the Martin St. Louis mess that Yzerman was dealing with as GM of his own team, the Lightning, after St. Louis initially was left off the Canadian Olympic team. The strain certainly played a part in Yzerman's decision.

But what about Mike Babcock? Does he want a chance at a threepeat as Canada's head coach?

"That's a real good question that you can ask me again in three years," the 50-year-old head coach of the Detroit Red Wings said. "I don't have a clue at this point. I still perceive myself as a young guy. I plan on coaching for a while yet. We'll see what happens.

"There are great, great coaches in Canada. If someone else deserves the opportunity, they should get it. If I'm still in the running at that time, we'll see. Only time will tell."

After three weeks of reflection, how does Babcock view Canada's successful repeat run at men's Olympic hockey gold?

"To get a chance to do this once was a thrill of a lifetime," he said. "You wonder, 'How can you top that?' Well, this was different because I didn't have my family with me. But it still was an amazing event. In the end, we had an unbelievable group and we did what we set out to do.

"I don't know if we ever got untracked. One of the things that turned out to be a positive was that we had trouble scoring. It was our adversity that we needed to overcome, just like the loss to the United States [in the final game of the preliminary round] was our adversity in Vancouver. This time, it was not scoring easily and it made our guys dig in.

"We became a well-oiled machine in which everybody did their jobs seamlessly. I was very impressed. We were much more dominant this time."

On Sochi experience

In Vancouver four years ago, Babcock helped bronze-medal figure skater Joannie Rochette deal with the death of her mother a few days before her event.

Babcock lost his mother when he was young. Rochette remarked afterwards how much she appreciated Babcock's thoughtfulness and words of encouragement.

He was asked if there were any similar episodes in Sochi and there were. Babcock revealed he helped Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir deal with their silver-medal effort in Sochi, four years after they won gold in Vancouver.

"The outside pressure they were dealing with was absolutely crazy," said Babcock, who studied sports psychology at McGill. "It's tough to win silver and, when I say tough, I mean it was difficult to handle after winning gold four years earlier.

"I talked to them a few times, including when they were stretching in a weight room near my room [in the Athletes' Village]. I told them that only the people who live in my house or visit me at the lake are allowed to have an opinion and that no one else gets one.

"You can't make everybody happy and that's the attitude you need as an Olympian and as a human being. You give maximum effort and make yourself happy. You don't have to make the rest of the world happy."

Babcock also delivered the same message to skip Brad Jacobs and the Canadian men's curling team after its rough start when they met at Canada House one day. Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden rallied to win gold.

Because Babcock's family stayed home and, with the close proximity of the Olympic venues, he took in more live events in Sochi than Vancouver. The hockey coach watched short and long track speed skating races, men' and women's curling, spent two nights at the figure skating rink and caught some women's hockey games.

Babcock remarked one of the highlights of his two weeks in Russia came after the closing ceremony, when most of the Canadian athletes returned to the Athletes' Village and had an impromptu party outside to celebrate the end of the Winter Games.

"We had a few beers," Babcock said. "The weather was beautiful and so was the camaraderie. It was a special, special evening."

On Red Wings' playoff streak

After their 4-1 loss in Chicago to the Blackhawks on Sunday, the Red Wings find themselves three points out of the playoffs with 14 games remaining. But Detroit does have two games in hand on the New York Rangers, who currently occupy the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Red Wings have lost more than 315 man-games to injury, second most in the NHL to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have lost more than 400 man-games to injury this season. Can the Red Wings keep their streak alive of 22 straight seasons of making the playoffs, even though they currently are without five of their top centres in Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, Stephen Weiss and Joakim Andersson?

"There is no sense worrying about [the injuries]," Babcock said. "What we've told our guys is the standings aren't in our way. It's just getting our mind right. What I mean by that is our belief system. We are organized enough. We have good structure. We can work hard enough. We have to believe that we're good enough.

"We have to find a way to win and I believe we're going to find a way. We not going to win the way our fans are used to seeing us play. But all I care about is getting two points." 

On University Cup

Babcock will keep an eye on his alma mater, McGill, later this week at the University Cup in Saskatoon. In fact, he tried to arrange a late-night or early-morning flight to Chicago so he could stay and watch McGill play in the Queen's Cup final across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ont., on Saturday evening.

But there weren't measures that could be made to allow him to get to Chicago in time. Windsor beat McGill 3-2 in the Queen's Cup, a national championship tune up for both schools.

Here are the six University Cup participants and the last time each school has won it.

  • Acadia (1996)
  • Alberta (2008)
  • Carleton (never won)
  • McGill (2012)
  • Saskatchewan (1983)
  • Windsor (never won)

Streaking Bruins

If the Boston Bruins can beat the Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils on Monday and Tuesday, they will match the Anaheim Ducks for the longest win streak in the NHL this season. Here are the longest so far in 2013-14:

  • 10 - Anaheim (Dec. 6-28)
  • 8 - Boston (March 2-15)*
  • 8 - Los Angeles (Feb. 6 - March 10)
  • 8 - Columbus (Jan. 6-23)
  • 8 - Anaheim (Dec. 31 - Jan. 15)

*still active 

By the numbers

31 - Game point streak for Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau on Saturday that tied the Hockey East record set by Paul Kariya. The streak, however, ended for the 20-year-old Gaudreau when his Boston College team was eliminated from the Hockey East playoffs with a 4-2 loss to Notre Dame on Sunday. The 5-foot-8, 159-pound forward and Boston College are still eligible for the NCAA hockey tournament. He has 32 goals and 69 points in 37 games this season.

5, 8 - Goals and points in seven games for Flames veteran Mike Cammalleri, a pending unrestricted free agent who was not picked up by a contender at the trade deadline.

2, 5 - Goals and points in a combined 15 games for trade deadline day acquisitions Marian Gaborik (a goal, two points in five games with Los Angeles), Thomas Vanek (no goals, one point in five games with Montreal) and Matt Moulson (one goal, two points in five games with Minnesota) with their new clubs.

9-2-0 - Record in the first 11 games for the Winnipeg Jets under new head coach Paul Maurice. 

3-4-4 - Record in last 11 games for the Jets under Maurice, despite a 7-2 rout of the Dallas Stars on Sunday. The Jets begin the final four weeks of the regular season four points out of a playoff position in the Western Conference with 13 games remaining.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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