In praise of Mike Babcock

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He wasn’t a finalist for coach of the year, but Mike Babcock is earning no shortage of admiration these days.

A couple of stories for your reading pleasure…

—- Yahoo!’s Nick Cotsonika has a great piece on the Red Wings’ head coach. (Young defenseman Brendan Smith: “I think I’m still trying to win him over. It’s something that you have to do day in and day out. He’s watching and judging at all times. He demands a lot out of us.”)

—- Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole wrote recently about Babcock’s evolution as a head coach. (Babcock: “Our coaching staff understands totally that to be the best you can possibly be, you’ve got to maximize each day and continue to get better and grow. There’s no better example than Scotty Bowman, always changing, that’s what you have to do. I’m fortunate to coach the Red Wings, got a good group of people who’ve been coachable and worked hard, we’ve tried to help them, we’re all in it together and we’re having fun.”)

If the Red Wings end up knocking off the heavily favored Blackhawks (Detroit leads the series, 2-1), the broadcasters who vote on the Jack Adams Award might be tempted to demand a redo.

Babcock says that this year has been “the most fun I’ve had coaching in a couple of years, by far,” which suggests the 50-year-old loves a challenge. Because as much as some Red Wings fans may be tired of hearing that Nicklas Lidstrom is no longer with the team, adjusting to life without one of the greatest defensemen of all time is right up there on the list of tough challenges for a head coach.

Game 4 of the Detroit-Chicago series goes Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.