NHL notes: Babcock warns about partying before Winter Classic

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock directs practice at The Big House in Ann Arbour, Mich.,...

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock directs practice at The Big House in Ann Arbour, Mich., Dec. 31, 2013. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:27 PM ET

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock has a theory as to why teams that host the Winter Classic have a 1-3-1 record.

It’s all the New Year’s Eve partying.

“Well let’s just go with what’s going to happen at my house,” Babcock told reporters. “My wife’s maiden name is Dunham and my kids say, ‘No one parties like a Dunham.’ So you can just imagine at my house tonight. That’s why a couple blocks down the road I got myself a hotel room. Because when 11 comes, they’re not going to care that the Winter Classic is tomorrow, they’re still going to be on time.

“So the home team has won one game. We went through this with our players. They know there’s an opportunity in our schedule for you to have a heck of a New Year’s Eve party on New Year’s Day. Make a decision, but if you’re counting on your family to do it for you, I don’t like your chances. That’s my theory.”

Message to Wings players: Don’t show up to work hung over Wednesday.

SABRES FEELIN’ GOOD

The last-place Buffalo Sabres are feeling a lot better about themselves these days.

The club is 7-9-3 since Ted Nolan took over behind the bench and 5-2-2 over their last nine games. They started the season 4-15-1, which led to the firing of general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston.

“Even with the position we’re in right now, it seems to be quite a positive room,” defenceman Tyler Myers told the Buffalo News. “The direction we’re headed is one I think everyone is excited about.

“It’s a completely different feel in the room. I don’t think we’ve had this feeling in the room for quite some time now, not even just looking at this year but last year was a tough year as well. The atmosphere right now within the group, all the guys are pretty happy about it.”

Nolan agreed.

“I think they feel good about themselves,” the coach said. “We have a long ways to go.”

PULLING TEETH

You might not see Dan Cleary smile for a while.

The Detroit Red Wings forward revealed he lost 10 teeth after taking a puck to the face during Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

“My lower seven (teeth) and three in front, all gone,” Cleary told the Detroit News. “It stinks. It was like candy in your mouth and you’re spitting (it out). Kind of gross to talk about. What are you going to do?”

Cleary said there’s also an exposed nerve, which may cause pain during the outdoor Winter Classic.

“My concern is the wind on my nerve,” Cleary said. “That bothers me the most.”

Cleary estimates he’s lost 12 teeth in his career.

NO MORE APPEALS

Boston Bruins grinder Shawn Thornton won’t file a further appeal of his 15-game suspension.

“I’d rather not be a distraction around here and I’d rather just focus on getting ready for Jan. 11 (in San Jose),” he told reporters.

Thornton filed an appeal after receiving the lengthy ban for his attack on Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the ruling.

“I know I made a mistake, but this won’t define me,” Thornton said. “I’m going to move on and continue to play and put this in the past.”

On Dec. 7, Thornton grabbed Orpik from behind during a scrum, threw him down to the ice and delivered punches before he was pulled away.

RYCHEL SIGNS

Canadian world junior and Guelph Storm forward Kerby Rychel signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Rychel, son of former NHLer Warren Rychel, was drafted 19th overall by the Jackets in the 2013 NHL draft. He’s one of three first-round picks by Columbus this year.

Rychel, who started his OHL season with the Windsor Spitfires before being traded to the Storm, has 17 goals and 28 assists in a 30 games combined.

BRIEFLY

The San Jose Sharks placed forward Martin Havlat on injured reserve. The team also called up Freddie Hamilton from the AHL’s Worcester Sharks ... Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman is expected to return Friday after breaking his hand in late November.


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