Red Wings’ Babcock has done his best coaching this season

In spite of a slew of injuries in the 2013-14 season, Mike Babcock has not panicked, and the Red Wings are back in the playoffs.

In spite of a slew of injuries in the 2013-14 season, Mike Babcock has not panicked, and the Red Wings are back in the playoffs.

The sport of ice hockey has many mind boggling stats. Like the fact that Larry Robinson has a career +\- of 730! How about the fact that Wayne Gretzky had 2,857 career points, which is nearly 1,000 more than second place Mark Messier. However, the latest astounding factoid is that Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has somehow still not won a Jack Adams Award.

The Jack Adams award is given out by the National Hockey League to the coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” It is voted on annually by the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association at the end of each season. Ottawa Senators head coach Paul Maclean took home the award last year, so it’s safe to say that having the best record or most talented team does not guarantee a victory.

Mike Babcock has been an NHL head coach since 2002 when he took over the then Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Before arriving in the NHL, Babcock played for McGill University in Montreal where he was captain. He was not exactly a standout player, but played a couple seasons in the WHL. Babcock is the only coach to be in what is known as the Triple Gold Club. He gained entry into this once uninhibited club by winning a Stanley Cup in 2008, an Olympic gold medal in 2010, and also an IIHF World Championship.

However this 2013-14 season may be Babcock’s most impressive yet, and that’s not even taking his gold medal in Sochi as Canadian head coach into consideration. It cannot be very difficult to coach players like Pavel Datsyk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Daniel Alfredsson. They’re experienced veterans who understand Coach Babcock’s philosophy and put the team as a whole above their individual play.

However, in an injury riddled season that has sidelined the likes of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Alfredsson, Weiss, Franzen, Abdelkader, Helm, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Cleary, Howard, Gustavsson, and Dekeyser, Babcock has more often than not found himself with a varied roster for much of his gamedays.

Sure when a coach has top talent it is more than likely they will earn top results. The fact that Babcock has iced a side made up of almost half Grand Rapids Griffins makes the second half of the season for the Red Wings all the more impressive. Babcock has managed to sprinkle in youthful talent with some of the remaining veterans and the team has now been playing their best run of hockey all season. And that has been largely without two of the top 10 forwards in the NHL. The most astounding part of this is that the young kids are having the greatest success of anyone on the team. Their reward? A 23rd straight trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, something the Wings’ franchise used to take for granted, but this year had to really fight for.

Gustav Nyquist has undoubtedly been the most exciting player in the NHL. In just 52 games played Goose has 28 goals and 18 assists. Tatar, Jurco, and Sheahan have been just as impressive even if they do not have the stat lines to match. Credit needs to be given to Babs for allowing these kids to play their game and show their talents on the NHL level and allow them the opportunity to make mistakes. When Nyquist gets the puck on a break now, the crowd at JLA stands in unison almost the same as they do when Datsyuk is barreling towards the goalie. Babcock clearly believed in these kids and now it looks like all of Detroit does as well. Fans will have a chance to root them on the playoffs, most likely against the Penguins, a team Detroit has some history with.

The Jack Adams trophy does not typically go to the coach with the best record. It will usually go to the coach with a successful season and an endearing or entertaining storyline associated with him. Well how can this story line be ignored? Battered and broken down team perseveres to make the playoffs for a record 23rd straight year!

With a victory over Buffalo earlier this week, Babcock eclipsed the franchise win record of 413 victories owned by none other than, you guessed it, Jack Adams. For all the flack that Babcock can take during a slump, he deserves to have another reason to be associated with the great Mr. Adams. And he might win the award named after him this season.