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|• He has coached in the WHL, CIAU, AHL and NHL. • Became the first Canadian coach to win gold medals for the world junior championship team (1997) and the IIHF world championship team (2004). • In 2003 under Babcock, the Mighty Ducks became the first NHL team since 1952 to sweep a defending champion in the playoffs (swept the Red Wings in first round). • As a coach, he won the Canadian University championship at University of Lethbridge in 1993-94. • He scored 132 points in 36 games in 1987-88 for the Whitney Warriors of the British Hockey League.|
Q: You're 42 years old. What is it like coaching players in your peer group like Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios, who is actually older than you?A: It's good to have someone to go for a beer with, for crying out loud. They're great people. To me, these guys are on-ice coaches. They don't agree with everything I say, so we talk it over and come up with the best way. What I have been most impressed with is the professionalism. Everybody in life needs leadership and quite simply the guys who play the best, play the most. The veterans have helped me out by understanding what I'm trying to do. Q: Steve Yzerman has said he doesn't like the new rules in the NHL. Yzerman has said the NHL isn't even hockey anymore. What do you think? A: I like the new rules, but they need to be tweaked. My big thing is just call the damn penalties. I don't want the calls to be different in L.A. one night and Detroit the next night and Calgary the next night. A hook is a hook, a grab's a grab. Just call the damn penalties. Q: NFL coaches notoriously work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the season. What's it like for NHL coaches? A: During off-days, we watch video of our previous game. We prescout the next game. We have meetings with our assistant coaches and try to continually evaluate the talent on our roster and in the minors. Brian Sutter said it best: "When you win a game, you can't sleep because you're so excited. When you lose a game, you can't sleep because you're so wound up. So you sleep in the offseason." That's how it is. You have to work, you have to be prepared. You have the fans and 23 guys in your room counting on you to help them be the best they can be. You better do everything you can to help them. Q: How superstitious are you before games? A: I'm a smart enough guy to know superstition doesn't matter, but I still do some superstitious things. I polish my shoes all the time the exact same way because I've done it for years. When I fill out the lineup card, I always wait till I get the other team's. Little dumb things that you and I know don't affect the outcome, but when you're trying to control the uncontrollable, you'll do anything. Q: After playing major junior and college hockey in Canada. You played professionally in England for one season. You had 132 points in 36 games -- those are Gretzky-like numbers. How good of a hockey player were you? A: [Laughs] You know what, it's easy to be good outside the NHL. I was an offensive defenseman, I'll leave it at that. Q: You seem almost reluctant to talk about it. A: I think when you coach in the NHL, unless you played in the NHL, you weren't a player. That's how I look at it. When people ask me if I played, I just say no. Q: You did have a tryout with the Canucks. What was that like? A: It was great. Tom Watt was the coach, he called me in and cut me. He said what are you going to do now? I told him I was going to go to grad school at McGill University. He was worried for me. He kept me at camp for a few more days so I could hang out with the guys; it was fun. Since then, I have coached the last 17 years.
Q: In July, you rejected a one-year contract to stay with the Ducks. Why?
A: They didn't want me. I'm no different than a player, or a kid or a spouse ... you know when you're wanted or not. I just thought if I stayed there with a one-year deal, with new management, and we got off to a bad start, I'd be fired by November. I didn't know what was going to happen. I want to win and I don't want to change cities every year, so I hope I do a good job so I can stay with the Wings for a long time. Q: In 2003, you had the Ducks one game from winning the Stanley Cup. How often do you think about how close you came with that Anaheim team? A: The only time you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup is when you have won three games in the final and we had done that and we were tied after one period in Game 7. I thought we were going to win the damn thing. In my heart and mind, I didn't think we were going to lose. But looking back at it now, some of my fondest memories come from that season. I still see Adam Oates and Steve Thomas and how shaken they were, knowing that they would not get another opportunity. I like to believe I'm going to get another opportunity, and next time I'm going to do it right. David Amber is an anchor for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com.