1. Wings' Czech madman goaltender Dominik Hasek has retired (for real this time):
"I know it's 100 percent the right time to say good-bye," Hasek said. "Physically, I feel great. It's all about passion and motivation. I just don't feel I'm ready to compete at the highest level. I don't want to disappoint anyone."Say what you will about Hasek (and there's plenty to say), but his contributions to the Wings and to the position of goaltender itself, cannot be discounted. While his play did drop off this season, he still backstopped the team in part to the victory we've all been basking in. He combined with Osgood for the lowest GAA in the league even without looking as strong as he has in the past. And don't forget last year when he was the legitimate #1 and helped take the team to the Western Conference Finals. Dom even handled himself incredibly gracefully despite the disappointment of losing his job to Chris Osgood in the playoffs - which, don't lie, we didn't all expect. At any rate, I wouldn't have minded him sticking around another year if he'd decided to, but this is a good decision for him. The Dominator always wanted to be number one, and what better way to go out but on top, with another Cup-winning season as your last memories in the NHL.
2. Stanley Cup winning coach Mike Babcock has signed a contract to be back for three years. Babcock is the first coach to win 50 or more games each year for his first three with a team - and now he will have the chance to do it for three more. The Wings announced yesterday that Babcock signed a deal worth $1.5 million a season and loaded with bonuses, which makes him one of the highest paid coaches in the league - as well he should be.
Babcock is a Jack Adams finalist this season, and for good reason. Of course he has an amazing team to work with, but his coaching style itself is an absolutely huge part of the Wings' success. Says Ken Holland:
"I think Mike has been the perfect fit for our team. He's pushed our team to be harder, go to the harder areas. He's challenged our team to play harder every night and I think our team for the most part every night plays hard. A large portion of that credit goes to Mike.''Very true. He knows when to push the team, when to back off, when to take them to resorts in Pittsburgh, and he seems to have maintained a good relationship with them on top of it. Every time you hear the players talk about Babcock it feels like genuine respect - and that's one of the most important things for a coach. And the man has a record, these past three years, of 162-56-28. 162-56-28! I for one am thrilled that he'll be back for another three years, looking to tie Scotty Bowman as the only coach to record four straight 50-win seasons. Here's to you, coach - I for one am hoping he can take it to six.
Plus, he has absolutely perfect hair.
3. (And the most important) Nick Lidstrom and Chris Osgood are bringing sexy (and Stanley) back:
Justin would be proud, boys (and how cute is Nicky Lidstrom singing "We're bringing sexy back"? Oh so very.)