|Babcock close to new deal to stay with Red Wings|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 01 June 2008 12:39|
``I'm not going anywhere,'' Babcock said Sunday, a day before he and the Red Wings had their first of three chances to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Stanley Cup. ``We just have a couple details to fix.''
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the new contract was almost completed the day before the first round started, but both sides decided to put it on hold until the playoffs ended so that the story didn't distract from the team's quest for the Cup.
``As soon as the season is over, we'll get it done,'' Holland said. ``I think it'll only take a meeting or two to put the finishing touches on it.''
The Adams Award finalist has helped the Red Wings reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since they won their 10th title in 2002. They advanced to the conference finals last year and lost in the first round in 2006, Babcock's first season in Detroit.
The Red Wings won the Presidents' trophy this season and in Babcock's first season and tied Ottawa for the most points last year.
Babcock was hired away from Anaheim to replace Dave Lewis, who was not offered a new contract when the NHL resumed play three years ago following the lockout.
It's been really good deal for me, and I hope it's been good for them,'' Babcock said. ``We've won a lot of games. Obviously, we need to win another.
``We live in a great spot and my family is really happy here. We're around great people at home and here at the rink, where we work for a great people and a great owner.''
PENGUINS ON ICE: Now that the Pittsburgh Penguins are in a nearly impossible situation, maybe the Eastern Conference champions can finally relax in the Stanley Cup finals.
Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the finals to win the Stanley Cup, and they did it against the Red Wings after trailing 3-0.
``Well, we'll be pretty excited,'' Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said before the Penguins flew to Detroit for Monday's Game 5. ``It's a good reason for us not to quit and keep playing hard and trying to have every chance for Pittsburgh.''
Sidney Crosby, the Penguins' 20-year-old captain, said there is no reason to be worried even though Pittsburgh is facing elimination for the first time in these playoffs.
``I don't think there is really anything to be nervous about, besides leaving it all out there and seeing what happens. We have to make sure we empty the tank and play desperate and see where that takes us.''
HOLMSTROM RETURNS: After sitting out Game 4 on Saturday night, top-line forward Tomas Holmstrom is set to return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup for what could be the Cup clincher.
``I can't even think that far. I am going to take it shift by shift,'' Holmstrom said.
Holmstrom was injured in the third period of the Red Wings' loss in Game 3 when he was knocked into the Penguins net by Pittsburgh defenseman Hal Gill. Holmstrom skipped practice on Friday and gingerly skated with his teammates on Saturday morning.
After much consultation, the decision was made just before game time to hold out Holmstrom. He is dealing with a hamstring injury that could potentially get worse if he isn't careful.
``I'm in tomorrow,'' Holmstrom said Sunday after the Red Wings returned to Detroit. ``I was pretty close (Saturday), but I think it was a good decision. I think it's getting better and better every day.''
Holmstrom wasn't missed much all that much by the Red Wings, who scored a goal with Dan Cleary taking up his usual spot in front of the net and on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
Still, watching the game from the dressing room was hardly any fun.
``It was terrible. Nerve-racking, sweaty,'' he said, ``but you've got to watch it.''
CHELIOS ICED: The player with the most playoff experience in NHL history will not likely add to his record-breaking total of postseason games unless the Detroit has an injury on the blue line.
Chris Chelios was replaced by Andreas Lilja in the final game of the Western Conference finals, and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn't sound like he plans to put the 46-year-old defenseman back on the ice.
``I don't expect there to be any lineup changes,'' Babcock said.
Chelios had been slowed by a knee injury, but said he's healthy enough to play and add to his record-breaking total of 260 playoff games.
``I feel like I'm 21,'' he joked.
Chelios insisted he's not bitter about his benching.
``Everybody wants to play and everybody thinks they can do more to contribute,'' he said. ``But the bottom line is, we're in a great spot whether you're watching or playing. You live for this all year.
``By no means am I upset.''
When he played in his 248th playoff game in the first round, Chelios broke the NHL record set by Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy.
He became the second-oldest player in an NHL game earlier this season. Hall of Famer Gordie Howe was still skating at 52 for the Hartford Whalers during the 1979-80 season - almost a decade after leaving the Red Wings.
Chelios has won the Stanley Cup twice, the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman three times, and is an 11-time All-Star.
AP Hockey Writer Ira Podell contributed.