TORONTO — After winning the World Cup of Hockey Thursday night, Mike Babcock, the only hockey coach in the Quadruple Gold Club, wasted no time turning his attention to his next mission.
The sweat-soaked Sidney Crosby and the Molson Canadian-drenched Carey Price hadn’t even had a chance to dry off before Team Canada’s bench boss flipped his focus to his bigger challenge.
“You know, I’ve got to tell you, I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled to be here in Toronto, to win this in Toronto,” Babcock said post-game at the championship podium.
A smile curled at his lips. He knew precisely what he was going to say next.
“This is just a sign of what’s going to happen here in Toronto, just so you know. But this is a special thing to do for Canada, and now we’ve got to do it in Toronto.”
With Thursday’s 2-1 comeback victory over Team Europe, Babcock’s lucky McGill necktie (9-3 lifetime record) has now been worn for two Olympic gold medal games, a Stanley Cup Final, and a World Cup clincher.
Canada’s Matt Duchene raved about Babcock’s approach to the game, saying he deserves to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame right now.
“Hockey Canada does this thing so right. It carries a lot of weight in the hockey world, and they just keep going back to him. There’s a reason for that,” Duchene said. “He’s absolutely an alpha. He has respect for all of us, and we have that respect for him. He just knows the game so well and teaches it so simple. He makes hockey simple and easy to understand.”
Babcock has long been praised for sticking to a structure and getting his troops to buy in. Duchene explained that a simple system — the same system he’s trying to install with the rebuilding Maple Leafs — allows players to just play.
“He knows what he wants all the time. Very detailed. Black or white. There’s no grey area. As players, we want that,” Duchene said. “I want to know when I mess up before he tells me. Before I get back to the bench, I should know. If I’m in the wrong position, I know. There’s no questions to be asked. I like that as a player. You’re not thinking too much.”
Ascend to the peak and move on to the next mountain, that’s it.
Babcock said he’s happy to have wrapped up the final in two games instead of three. The Maple Leafs have a pre-season game Friday in Buffalo, and another one Sunday night back at the Air Cananda Centre. It’s time to get Auston Matthews‘ positioning straight.
“I’ve got a real job,” Babcock said. “I’ve got to get to work.”
Just so you know.