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These coaches share backgrounds, respect

Thursday, 04.29.2010 / 4:56 PM ET / News
By Brian Compton  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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These coaches share backgrounds, respect
SAN JOSE -- When Todd McLellan accepted the coaching job with the San Jose Sharks in June 2008, he knew he'd have to beat the Red Wings in order to lead his new club to a Stanley Cup.
 
Now, 22 months later, he has to do just that when this Western Conference Semifinal series starts Thursday (9 p.m. EDT, VERSUS, TSN) at HP Pavilion.
 
"I think most teams think that," McLellan said after the morning skate when asked if the road to Lord Stanley goes through Detroit. "When they built their team at the beginning of the year, they probably think about Detroit and having to overcome and beat them at some point. We'll see if we've done the right thing."
Both McLellan and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock arrived in the NHL via junior hockey in the Western Hockey League. McLellan, 42, guided Swift Current to six straight playoff appearances, while Babcock won 228 games over six seasons with the Spokane Chiefs from 1994-2000.
 
In 2003, McLellan led the AHL's Houston Aeros to a Calder Cup title, while Babcock -- who also coached in the AHL (Cincinnati) from 2000-02, came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup as his Anaheim Mighty Ducks lost in Game 7 at New Jersey in 2003.
 
"We both came out of junior hockey together at the same time," Babcock said. "I think we were being interviewed for a number of jobs in the American League together, so I knew that one day he was going in that direction as a career coach. He's done well."
 
Indeed, McLellan has. San Jose has won 104 regular-season games since his arrival and helped erase its reputation as a postseason underachiever by eliminating the Colorado Avalanche in six games in the first round.
 
And when it comes to McLellan's success as a head coach, he knows he owes thanks to the man he'll now try to beat.
 
"Mike's obviously very, very bright -- to the point where he's ahead of the curve all the time," McLellan said of Babcock. "He uses his players wisely. They respond to him on a nightly basis. He definitely has been through this before. He has a calmness about him, yet he's very direct. He tells the players how he wants it done. In my experience with him, I learned a lot. If we can apply those principles here and get the players to respond, then we're where we need to be."
Mike's obviously very, very bright -- to the point where he's ahead of the curve all the time. He uses his players wisely. They respond to him on a nightly basis. He definitely has been through this before. He has a calmness about him, yet he's very direct. He tells the players how he wants it done. In my experience with him, I learned a lot. - Todd McLellan on Mike Babcock
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom isn't surprised by McLellan's NHL success. During their days together in Detroit, the 40-year-old defenseman was certain the former Red Wings assistant one day would land a head-coaching position.
 
"He's got very good systems," Lidstrom said. "I think they play a similar style to what we do, so I'm sure he took a lot of what we had going on here. He's very structured and he seems to have the players playing real well for him, too. He's been a real good coach for them.
 
"I think you had that feeling that he wanted to become a head coach. He had a lot of good ideas. You're happy for him in a sense that he has had some success here with the Sharks, but now we're facing him, so it's a different story."
 
Babcock agreed that he had a sense during their days in Detroit that McLellan would soon make a solid head coach in the NHL. Less than two years since sipping champagne out of Lord Stanley together, McLellan has a chance to deny Babcock of a fourth trip to the Final.
 
"He's smart, he's a good man and a good family guy," Babcock said of McLellan. "I rode to the rink every day with him for three years. I coached against him in junior hockey. I enjoyed coaching with him. He's a bright guy. He's a hard-worker, he's honest and he communicates real well. Obviously, he's done a real good job here."
 



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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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