Mike Babcock

Mike Babcock hates the Red Wings’ schedule


You can’t blame Mike Babcock for being displeased with Detroit’s opening schedule. After racing out to a perfect 4-0 start — their first since 1997-98 — the Wings have been forced to sit and wait for game number five.

Five days, to be exact. The Wings last played on Saturday, a 3-2 win over Minnesota. They don’t play again until Friday, a home game versus Columbus.

There’s no specific reason why Detroit’s schedule has such a huge gap. The circus isn’t in town, Joe Louis isn’t under renovation and there’s no notable dog and/or pony show rolling through Detroit. The long break is just one of those weird scheduling anomalies. They happen. That doesn’t make it easier for Babcock to handle, mind you.

“Is it unbelievable or what? It’s painful,” Babcock told MLive.com. “It’s painful for the players and painful for me, and they’re probably sick of me and I don’t like watching them practice, either.

“We’d like to play games, that’s just the way it is. It is what it is. We got to be ready and we’re going to have a tiger by the tail [the Blue Jackets are 0-5-1].”

Thankfully, Babcock’s players found several amusing ways to keep themselves busy:

— Nicklas Lidstrom and Valtteri Filppula made pizzas at Little Caesars.

— Jimmy Howard and Johan Franzen did oil changes at a Dodge dealership.

— Ian White, Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton bagged groceries at Kroeger.

— Darren Helm and Ty Conklin greeted customers at Meijer’s.

— Tomas Holmstrom, Drew Miller and Fabian Brunnstrom greeted employees at Blue Cross. (Holmstrom inquired about extra coverage for his back.)

All that philanthropic work is good for the soul and probably helps in the karma department too. So it’s fair to suggest Detroit will be flying high on Friday, which is the last thing Columbus needs to hear right now.

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.