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Babcock: Toews the right guy to lead Hawks forward
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Jonathan Toews

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/18/2009 4:21 PM

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DETROIT - There's no shame in the Blackhawks aspiring to be like the Detroit Red Wings someday - a championship club that thrives because of its talent, leadership and professionalism.

What the Hawks have shown the hockey world in their run to the Western Conference finals is that day might be coming sooner than later.

The Red Wings win because their core group of Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, Marian Hossa, Brian Rafalski and Johan Franzen work every day at both ends of the ice.

"We want our best players to be two-way players. That's what we expect," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Monday.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg are two of the most gifted offensive players in the NHL, yet they are just as good defensively.

"They are complete hockey players," veteran Red Wings center Kris Draper said. "You look at Pavel and he's won a Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) and this year is up for the Hart Trophy (as MVP).

"That shows how our best players, how hard they work. Steve Yzerman's legacy trickles down in this dressing room still, how he became one of the best two-way players in the game."

It was first Yzerman and now Lidstrom leading the way for everything the Red Wings stand for and have become. Babcock believes the Hawks have that same kind of personality to lead them to great things in 21-year-old captain Jonathan Toews.

"You need a great human being who's a workaholic to set the tone," Babcock said. "That's what you have in him.

"So I think when your key guy does things right, everyone else does."

Lidstrom is that guy in Detroit. The six-time Norris Trophy winner has been a part of all four Stanley Cup teams and is a coach's dream, according to Babcock.

"I always joke that Nicklas Lidstrom is just the kind of professional that does everything right every day without ever being told," Babcock said. "And to me that's what we're all trying to do in our walk of life anyway. I don't think we need someone looking over our shoulder if we do it right. And yet, let's be honest, if everyone were like Nick, there would be no coaches because there would be nothing for us to do."

Teammates even struggle to find the right words to describe what he means to them.

"Everything he does is with a thought," Zetterberg said.

"It's his consistency," Chris Chelios said. "He does everything better than most players, whether it's defensive or offense. He makes it look easy, which is the biggest reason why he hasn't won an MVP. He should have won an MVP at least a couple of years for what he's done.

"Nick is second to none. I can't go out and say he's the best defenseman ever, but I don't think there been anybody better than him."