Just Go In Straight Lines

Chelios: Well, I adjusted I think because I played so long and had been through different types of games. Mike Babcock, I don’t think there’s a more structured coach than him, and I struggled with him. I tried to do what he wanted me to do. I was one of those players, you talk about elite players, I had a vision, I could see the puck and plays developing before it happened, but once he had me doing straight lines, I was worthless. Then I knew the end was there.


I pulled the above quote from an interview posted at ESPN.  Chelios touches upon the prevalence of systems in the NHL a few times in the interview, but this was the most direct connection he made to the Wings. When Babcock first came on board, and really throughout his tenure in Detroit, there were often rumors of him rubbing players the wrong way. Shanahan’s dislike for Babcock was the worst kept secret in Detroit the little time they co-existed. For awhile Babcock was seen as essentially shoving Yzerman off the ice. Rumors of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Lidstrom rebelling against Babcock seemed to surface every couple of years, only to have everyone stay where they were and keep saying the right things. I  have to believe, though, that Chelios wasn’t the only high end player who looked at how Babcock wanted them to play and thought, “Just kill me now.”

I totally get the idea of cutting down on mistakes by taking as much of the unknown out of the game as possible. And as a team becomes less skilled, this makes a lot of sense. However, at some point I have to wonder if it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We don’t have enough skill to let guys go out and create a bit, so we go out and get guys who are better at a simpler, more straight forward game, but they are also less skilled, bringing the team down further, and pushing the game plan to be even more conservative. And on. And on. And on. Before you know it, you have a team that is very limited on the skill front, with grinders playing up in the lineup, and having a difficult time consistently producing offense.

Sound familiar? I think it does. Maybe the Wings are hitting a point where they will realize they either need to go back to what was really the Wings hallmark or to just go all out with the crash&bang limit mistakes lineup they keep flirting with. Unfortunately, the lack of high end skill coming up through the farm system may make the decision for them.

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One Response to “Just Go In Straight Lines”

  1. fruscianteredwing Says:

    All it took was 8 million a year and tanking for Matthews to bring Babcock and shanny together…lol. Do you remember what mickey was saying during game 4 or 5 this year? Not a direct quote but something along the lines of “The players are like androids on the ice and they have coached the skill/creativity right out of the game” basically saying that they are glued to their assignments on the ice. Our choreography definitely has to change, but a lot of our players have Babcocks game embedded into them. I would like to see jurco moved for someone like Alex chiasson, but I doubt jurco has much trade value after last year.

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