Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland responds to criticism of Babcock

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  • Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland said he knew some players in Detroit didn’t like former head coach Mike Babcock, but added he wasn’t aware of every detail of Babcock’s relationship with some players.

“You talk about Johan Franzen, I can’t speak for Johan. And when he came out, he was very clear and said Mike Babcock was a tremendous coach. He doesn’t like him as a person.”

“When you have a 23-man roster, when I was in Detroit with Mike Babcock, there was some players in that locker room that didn’t like the coach. There was some players in that locker room that didn’t really have feelings either way.

“I know there was some players in that locker room that thought he was the best coach they ever played for,” said Holland.

  • Former Red Wing Johan Franzen recently said he was verbally assaulted by Babcock on the bench. The allegations were backed up by another former Red Wing, Chris Chelios.

“Am I aware that there was some unhappiness? Yeah,” said Holland. “But some stuff I’m not aware of.”

  • Holland was the GM of the Wings from 1998 until the spring of 2019. Babcock coached the Wings from 2005 to 2015.

“We had ten years. He comes to work, he works hard everyday. He was a tremendous coach,” said Holland. “Over the course of ten years, are you going to have some people who are unhappy? Yeah. There’s that fine line between trying to push people, to make us better individually, to make us better as a group. I think the most important thing is respect.”

  • After speaking with Chelios himself, Holland revealed that the events did not take place at the same time.

“I spoke to Cheli,” Holland explained, per TSN. “I hold Cheli in the highest regard…I just said to Cheli that the timeline he laid out – the perception was there was a situation between Babcock and Franzen on the bench and the next day I came down and said something to the team – both are true, but they’re about five to six years apart. When I did address the team one point in time – I think Cheli retired in ’09 – Cheli said he was sitting in the locker room, so it’s gotta be ’06, ’07 – and the Franzen-Babcock was the Nashville series in 2012.

“I just wanted to make sure everybody understood the timeline was five or six years apart.”

  • NHL insider Elliotte Friedman pointed out the same thing in his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet.

“Chris Chelios’s Spittin’ Chiclets interview about Babcock had some confusing timelines, because when the Johan Franzen incident occurred (as Nashville eliminated Detroit in Game 5 of the 2012 first round), Chelios was no longer on the Red Wings. He referenced a meeting Ken Holland had with the players, where the GM defended his coach. I think this has to do with Marty McSorley. McSorley worked on San Jose Sharks broadcasts, and once said none of the Red Wings liked playing for Babcock. Word got back to Detroit reporters, who asked Holland about it. (The current Edmonton GM declined to discuss this, but did speak to the Detroit Free Press ’s Helene St. James about the Franzen incident.)”

Sources & Credits: Global News, Sportsnet, TSN, Hockeyfeed
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