If the title of this article shocks you, then we need to have a talk.
No Mike Babcock.
It should come as no surprise that Babcock was not named a finalist. Us Red Wings fans know better than to expect a coach of a team that has been amazing for the past two decades to be nominated for a coaching award.
This year, however, we thought maybe something would change. You can see the cracks and faults of this hockey team more than in previous seasons. You can watch us fumble game in and game out, making rookie mistakes, turnover after turnover. This isn’t your usual superstar Detroit Red Wings. This team had to claw their way into the playoffs.
And when they made it into the playoffs, they came face-to-face with a team that should have been able to dispense of them in a handful of games. It came down to a Game 7. The consensus from many different people and analysts on both sides was that the Ducks were simply outcoached. Babcock continually mixed up his lines in Games 6 and 7 to find something that worked. How can you match the Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry-Bobby Ryan line with any one line of the Red Wings team when you start the game with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line, then on separate lines, then mixing them with other top offensive players like Johan Franzen and Damien Brunner?
There’s not much you can do to combat that.
Of course, that’s not saying Quenneville, Boudreau, or MacLean don’t deserve to be nominated. What they did with their teams this season is absolutely incredible. No one had hope for Ottawa. Everyone counted Anaheim out (myself included – I predicted them to finish tenth in the West). Chicago was on pace for a 131 point season if it had been the whole 82 games.
What Mike Babcock did with this ragtag team of misfits this year was something else. It was so foreign to the concept of the Detroit Red Wings that most of us were calling for Ken Holland‘s head, a trade of Franzen or Filppula, anything to shake the team up and light a fire under them. The roster was injured, the roster was a lot of rotating call-ups. It took until the last four games of the regular season for the team to pull it together enough to even make the playoffs.
Babcock deserves to be nominated for the Jack Adams award, but fans should not throw a fit over it. It’s logic that boggles the mind, and in the words of Carl Carlson to Frank Grimes in The Simpsons, “It’s best not to think about it.” Other head coaches who were “snubbed” include Jack Capuano (Islanders), Mike Yeo (Minnesota), Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh), and Michel Therrin (Montreal).
Don’t get too upset over it. There’s playoff games to win. An award nomination (or snub) can only mean so much.