Babcock, Holland talk about Future on Locker Cleanout Day: Red Wings Injury Reveals
Today was locker cleanout day in Detroit, the first day since the Red Wings' elimination that the team would have to face the media and start answering the questions that crop up during every offseason. Lots of good information out there, so let's get started.
Nobody says anything during the playoffs unless they absolutely have to, but it's kind of a perverse pastime to wait for clarification on who was hurt and how badly.
Abby broken finger. E had broken toe. Glendening torn tendon on back hand. Pav had bruised ankle.— Chuck Pleiness (@wingsfrontman) May 1, 2015
Zidlicky has concussion symptoms...has not decided whether he wants to play anymore— Ted Kulfan (@tkulfan) May 1, 2015
Johan Franzen's future still unknown. He wants to play, had a setback last week. "Hope is that over the summer, he gets 100%"— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) May 1, 2015
Further clarification on Glendening was that the tendon in his hand was "60% severed." What's notable is that nobody seemed to ask a single question about Erik Cole, who didn't play a game after March 24th. That's probably as telling as anything that Cole's future with the Wings is nothing and that his future in the NHL is probably done as well.
On the Goaltending Situation
The Wings have a $5M+ goalie under contract and a kid who played all their playoff games. It's an interesting situation and there's lots more to be said about it, but here is what was said today:
Jimmy Howard says he won't request trade. Looks forward to competing for starting job in Red Wings training camp.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) May 1, 2015
This one got off to an interesting start as the first two quotes to hit today were Jimmy Howard saying "Ask Holland" when asked about his future with the Wings and the above Custance tweet just saying Howard isn't going to ask for a trade. once Holland started talking, he brought some much-needed clarity.
#RedWings Ken Holland said by the middle of May Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek need to begin their competition for 2015-16 starting job.— The Wheel Deal (@Bill_Roose) May 1, 2015
Holland said message to Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard is it's competition. Howard needs to come back strong/Mrazek can't rest on laurels— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) May 1, 2015
The most-anticipated discussion of the day went about as expected. Nothing concrete has come from Babcock's camp, but Holland was masterful about taking on the questions head-on.
Mike Babcock says he's not made decision on future, will meet with Ken Holland next 10 days— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) May 1, 2015
Babcock said priority is to talk more with "my bride" and then Red Wings GM Ken Holland as far as future. Does not want to drag it out.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) May 1, 2015
Babcock had a great quote about how Ken Holland isn't the boss, his wife is. He also reiterated that his priorities remain winning hockey games and his family (although I'm sure the order there is reversed).
Ken Holland was asked to give his thoughts on whether Babcock would return and quipped that he doesn't handicap horse races and he's not handicapping this decision, but gave more than just a vote of confidence to the idea that Mike Babcock is a coach the Red Wings want while subtly hinting at one of the criticisms of Babcock.
#RedWings Holland: "Did the players always like Scotty? Do they always like Babcock? Nah. I like that. I like when the boss makes you work."— The Wheel Deal (@Bill_Roose) May 1, 2015
"I want Mike to stay. Money isn't going to be an object" Ken Holland on Mike Babcock— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) May 1, 2015
Holland confirmed that he wouldn't give other teams permission to talk to Babcock before his contract expires at the end of June, reaffirming that this is truly a pending-UFA situation at hand. Through the Ken Holland quotes shared with the gathered press, it was made repeatedly clear that Babcock is the team's Plan A when it comes to coaching. Holland also gave a vote of confidence to Blashill, calling him "an NHL coach in the making."
As for the "Babcock wants more power" angle?
Babcock said he's not interested in being a GM or gaining any more personnel control.— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) May 1, 2015
So if this is true, then it really comes down to who's going to pay him and who he thinks has a best chance of winning, right?
Oh... and he did finally update that "Grass isn't always greener" quote for us too...
"The grass is always greener unless you water and fertilize at home." - Mike Babcock (excellent advice on pretty much all situations)— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) May 1, 2015
Reading the Tea Leaves
Of the collected press, only Gregg Krupa was willing to speculate based on HOW Babcock spoke.
Babcock's body language and speech made clear to me 100 percent he HAS NOT decided to leave -- or stay.— gregg krupa (@greggkrupa) May 1, 2015
Yeah, that sounds like Babcock. Ever-cagey.
Here's where Red Wings press events have always been fun: I don't believe Babcock or Holland told a single lie to the press during any of this. I believe that Holland wants Babcock back and I believe that Babcock has honestly not made up his mind (though I still affirm that based on previous information that he's likely leaning away from Detroit still).
In terms of winning being a priority to him, the only new information that Babcock brought up in regards to that was this:
#RedWings Babcock said young kids need to start pushing, grow from within.— Dana Wakiji (@FSDwakiji) May 1, 2015
As far as family being a priority to Babcock (and my assumption that it's more important than winning), nobody has asked Babcock's wife what she wants, so I don't have anything useful to report on that.
I don't think Babcock is going to draw out the process. My question from here is whether or not the fans will be made aware of a decision once it's made. What he said potentially hinted that the choice could come within the next ten days, but it's going to be awfully easy for us to still be wondering about this going into the draft with nothing but string-along tidbits about how this isn't an easy decision and it's not being "strung along" but instead carefully evaluated. If Babcock does decide that he's done within the next ten days, has he promised to actually tell us that? No.
So what we do know is that the Wings had some injuries, will have a goaltender's duel going into next season and currently have a coach who wants to win while keeping his family happy. What we don't know really is exactly how close to winning Mike Babcock still thinks the Red Wings are or the motivations to the single-most important person in Mike Babcock's life.
Despite the uncertainty, I did get a good feeling from the information we got today. The players are rightfully upset about their failure to perform better in the playoffs, the general manager seems to have a Plan A and a Plan B in place right now along with a direction for the team, and the coach acted like the same coach that's been talking to the Detroit press for the last decade. There's enough familiar comfort there to let me know the Wings aren't going to change everything for the sake of changing (like the Sharks did), but plenty of hints of realization that staying the same for the sake of staying the same isn't going to be good enough either.
What do you think? How are you feeling about the Wings going forward?