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Mike Babcock on TSN1050

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3-on-3 OT, player development, retaliation, and more.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was on Leafs Lunch with TSN1050 yesterday afternoon and made some interesting points. You can listen to the entire interview on the TSN1050 website. Below is my paraphrased recap.

On 3-on-3 OT:

Babcock: I love it, we had 5 chances in 3 on 3 last night but need to hit that thing with red around the edges...anything to avoid the shootout is a good thing.

Host: How do you change your coaching style in 3 on 3?

Babcock: I got the guys out there that can skate and make plays...we try to never give it away, just hang onto the puck as much as you can and don't miss the net in the wide side or they'll be coming back 2 on 1 or 3 on 1

Host: You had Nick Spaling and Daniel Winnik out to start OT, as opposed to some skills guys, what was your reasoning to start them?

Babcock: Have you looked at the stats on the team? Who's leading my team in scoring? What I'm saying is, they've been good. With Lupul on their wing they've been generating a lot...we have a perspective of who's generating chances as a fan, and we actually know who's been charting who's been generating chances every game so the guys who generate chances get to go out.

It's interesting to hear his take on how the coaching staff chooses players to send out in OT. Who's generating chances the most? Send them out. another important factor to consider, and Babcock brought this up, is who can help control a 2 or 3 on 1 if you miss your shot? Player placement is important on 3 on 3, as much as you can control these things, because if you do miss that wide shot as mentioned, you're giving up a great chance for the other team. 3-on-3 is a mess and I love it. (Winnik is leading the Leafs in points, tied with Phaneuf at 4)

On coaching young players:

Host: Taking you back to your time with Spokane in the WHL. Do you find you're back in that type of mindset in Toronto, with younger players trying to prove themselves?

Babcock: A bit...we had young guys in Detroit the last few years. What you want to do is put in as much time as you can with the guys who want help. The best players always want help. They havea  love of the game, try and compete hard. We're trying to focus on our guys...unfortunately Gardiner's been hurt a bit..the growth on Rielly is unbelievable..Kadri's been fantastic. We just have to keep helping our young guys get better. We have a bunch of kids in the minors who have to grow up a little bit. I've got to fix the situation here (in the NHL) first, then we'll bring some of those guys up. There's a lot of teaching going on for sure. I like a lot of the things we're doing, we've got to find a way to win...we have to come to the rink knowing we're going to win, we can't come to the rink hping we're going to win."

I like this focus on "fix the NHL team/systems then bring up the kids". It makes me hopeful they really will leave Nylander/Brown etc.. down until 1. They are dominating the AHL and 2. The established NHLers have perfected Babcock's systems.

On NHLers with one-year deals:

Host: You mentioned you need to fix it here, how does that apply to guys who have 1 year deals and may not be here down the road?

Babcock: Who says they won't be here? Those guys should be showcasing themselves to the rest of the NHL and to us...if you want to be a Maple Leaf play good. Compete everyday, be a good human being, and you get to play...do good things, good things happen, if I catch you doing them,you'll get to play more.

"Do good things, good things happen" Thanks, Earl. A good [political answer, but sell high as much as you can!

Host: Matt Hunwick, does he give you a lot of the same things Luke Glendening did in Detroit?

Babcock: In the gym, sure...I pushed hard to get him. I never knew that he was going to be like this on the ice. I knew what kind of man he was, the way he trained, I knew he was going to help the culture. I never knew he was going to play 27 minutes, play against the best players...that's what I'm talking about. Bring players in, give them an opportunity, suddenly you get confidence, confidence is the main part of the sport. He's won over DJ Smith, he keeps putting him out there all the time...he's ready to do whatever's right, and he's a great teammate and a good man.

The interesting point here is Babcock pointing out DJ Smith is handling defense on the bench. But as we can see below, Babcock is reviewing play each night and would speak up if he didn't like what Smith was doing. We'll never get away from character and compete comments, but i can see a different tone between how Babcock uses it and Randy.

On Phaneuf's minutes:

Host: Phaneuf played 17 minutes last night, in a few of the games this year his numbers have been lower than in the past few years...is this a conscious effort or made on the fly?

Babcock: Well, last night, after that cross check, he had to go get his teeth put right and some stitches, then a penalty so that's what, five minutes? We are definitely getting the guys who play the best out there every night. I talk to my video coach to help find out who's playing the best. The one thing you don't want to find as a coach is to look at the tapes and someone who played well didn't play enough. That to me is ridiculous...the guys on the bench, they know who is playing well and expect you to play the guys who are playing the best. For example (in Buffalo) in overtime I don't think anyone was questioning why (Winnik & Spaling) were out on the ice.

I haven't watch every game, so I can't see if there's a Kostka like pattern of a "coaches guy" getting all the time on the ice. I'm not too sure I'd put those guys out for OT every game, but I'm sure that's not a pattern to worry about.

On the missed call with Phanuef:

Host: I used to love the excuses refs give when they miss calls. What did they have to say about missing a call where a guy's bleeding and his teeth are all over the ice?

Babcock: In fairness to them, I don't know how four of them missed it...that's the way life goes. What I do know is we're going to the box too much..that means we're not in the offensive zone enough.

Host: Were you hoping to see a reponse from your team after what Kane did? Someone go after him?

Babcock: No. I was hoping to win the game.

Host: So you don't consider the old school mentality to be part of your protocol?

Babcock: I don't think...you know what? there's a time and place for everything. What was the score when that happened? The clock is boss. The score is boss...going to the penalty box and making sure you lose the game, that would make no sense to me.

I love this part and I want to take it out behind the middle school and get it pregnant. "Should someone have fought" "No." THANK YOU!

VS Montreal at the Bell Centre

Host: Coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs, heading to the Bell Centre, what do you expect that experience to be like?

Babcock: It will be outstanding. Montreal has the best pageantry in the league...Price is standing on his head, everyone is playing well in front of him...we plan on going in there and winning.

I cut out a lot of wanking praise for Montreal fans and blah blah blah. We want to win!

On his time so far in Toronto

Host: You've been here a few weeks behind the bench..you came here in May, a lot has been made of the media, the fans, the pressure..how have you felt about the coverage and spotlight in Toronto?

Babcock: Toronto is an incredible city. Nothing is like it here. Fans and media drive our revenue and give us the opportunity. When you play well, you take ownership, when you play bad you take ownership...I don't think you spend all day watching the news to find out what people are saying. I don't do that...I would like to improve our product on the ice so our fans can watch us win every night.

That last sentence. I want to improve our product. I kind of believe it this time.

I thought that was a great interview, and some insight into player choices in situations helps look back at games with a closer eye. His take on revenge for the Phaneuf hit was great. I would listen to the whole thing, I'm paraphrasing everything so nuances in tone and hesitations are missed. I hope to hear more great quotes from Babcock all season.