Babcock's true colours

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Mike Babcock probably didn't think about this kind of moment when he played defence up the street for the McGill Redmen 25 years ago.

The 46-year old stepped to a podium yesterday as coach of our 2010 Olympic men's hockey team, charged by executive director Steve Yzerman with getting Canada back on top after finishing out of the medals at the 2006 Games.

"I'm very, very excited, very honoured, very proud and yet very humbled to be standing here," said the Red Wings bench boss. "As much as the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Stanley Cup is unbelievably exciting, any time you have a chance to play for your country or be involved in something for your country, there's a whole new level of special."

Appointed as associate coaches were Ken Hitchcock of the Blue Jackets, back for his third Olympics, former Wild coach Jacques Lemaire -- working for Team Canada for the first time -- and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who led Canada to silver at the world championship in the spring.

"The amount of winning these guys have done at all different levels gives you a great support group," said Babcock.

"Canada not only has depth in players, but in the coaching staff," added Yzerman. "We have a vision of how the Olympic team will play and the type of players we want and I'm certain Mike is the right guy to take the reins, lead this team and play the style of game that will be successful this winter in Vancouver."

The hallmark of Babcock's Wings teams has been his ability to get elite players like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to become immersed in the team game.

Get used to hearing the "200-foot game."

GO 'ALL-OUT'

"(Babcock) doesn't want any difference in percentages in the offensive zone and the defensive zone. He wants people to understand when you're on the ice, you're expected to compete for 200 feet. No overs and no unders. It's all-out, 200 feet," said Hitchcock.

"It's easy to talk about," added Hitchcock of cultivating that kind of environment, "and friggin' hard to do."

Team Canada staff will meet in Vancouver in July to comb over every detail involved in the logistics of playing in the Olympics. An orientation camp with the players will be held in August in Calgary.

It's hard to believe this is the first crack for Lemaire, an 11-time Stanley Cup winner as a player and coach.

"I'm really thrilled to be with such a great group here. It's my first time and I can't wait," said the native of LaSalle, Que.

"I'm more excited than he is," said Ruff. "I consider it a tremendous privilege and honour to be part of this and help bring the gold medal to Canada. Let's skip the season and start right now."

Babcock sounded like he was ready to step behind the Team Canada bench today.

"One of the most exciting times for me being a coach in the National Hockey League is when we go into Vancouver when they sing the national anthem and the fans join in," said Babcock. "I can't even imagine how it's going to be, how exciting it's going to be (at the Olympics)."


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