Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 2/17/12

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 09: Head coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings speaks to the media during a press conference after Game Six of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Mellon Arena on June 9, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
We always take the good ones for granted. When things are going well, theyre the forgotten figure. And when things are not going well, they become the whipping boy. Such is the plight of a professional head coach. A mixture of tactician, disciplinary and psychologist, a head coach must put his team in the best position to win by making tough personnel decisions without bruising too many egos. Its a delicate juggling act because if you lose your team, youll soon be pounding the pavement, looking for your next coaching opportunity. Because of the volatile nature of their position, todays head coach is defensive, cryptic and sometimes honest to a fault. Their honesty usually is in the form of harsh criticism of a player, their team or the old standby -- the media. Imagine being second-guessed on everything and youll begin to understand the coaching profession. Youre continually on trial and always guilty unless you can prove otherwise. Thats why you rarely see a coach let their guard completely down. There are very few coaches who can navigate their way through this mine field any better than Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. As the old saying goes, Babcock won't be on the Christmas-card lists of many of his players, but he does get the job done and has made a majority of them better players. Polished but still rough around the edges, Babcock has an ego, is intelligent, charming and abrasive. And you always know where you stand with him. Intense is the one word that best describes demeanor. Hes always searching for that competitive edge, looking for that minute detail that will put the Wings over the top. Many who know him wish he would take a step back and enjoy his accomplishments or at least savor the moments. But Babcock isnt made like that. During the season, hes a runaway train, surging towards his only destination -- the Stanley Cup. On Monday, I saw Babcock actually slow down for the first time. As his team was on the verge of breaking the NHLs record for consecutive home victories, Babcock talked about how the Wings have already exceeded his expectations. He approached this season with tremendous apprehension, even wondered if the Red Wings were a legitimate playoff team. Babcock didnt know what to expect, but it sounded like he wouldnt have been too surprised if his team fell flat. Then Babcock named almost every player on the Detroit roster as being better this year than previous seasons. He praised them as the most consistent team hes ever coached. Usually a coach leaves such accolades until after the season has concluded, once hes had some time to decompress and get his emotions in check. For Babcock to be this open about his team at this point in the season says a lot about where he believes the Wings are headed. Babcock didnt mention coaching, so let me do it for him. Without Babcocks relentlessness, the Wings would not have been close to this record. There are many elements that go into the success of team, but the key ingredient is the coach. Mike Babcock might not win many popularity contests, but he does win hockey games. Which is all that really matters in the end.
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