Yesterday, Chelios’ former teammate, Jeremy Roenick, went on “The Monsters In The Morning" on Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and said that Detroit coach Mike Babcock “does not like Cheli at all.” Roenick went on to say that “I think (Babcock) has a grudge against American players.”
So this morning, one day after Roenick’s comments, Chelios found his coach at breakfast and offered him an apple as a sign of peace.
“Like any other coach, it’s all business,” said Chelios of Babcock. “Never had an issue or problem with him in four years that we’ve been here. I think the only problem I’ve had with a coach is Mike Keenan, but he likes confrontations.”
Both Chelios and Babcock tried to shift the media focus after Friday’s morning skate away from Roenick’s comments and onto the Western Conference final.
Still, saying that there is a rift among the Red Wings and that the coach of an NHL franchise is anti-American is something that will draw attention.
But Babcock, who was born and raised in Canada, has been employed as a hockey coach in the United States since 1994.
“The first thing I did is call my kids because I’ve got a couple of American kids and tried to give them a hug over the phone,” said Babcock. “You wouldn’t want to think your dad didn’t like you.”
Chelios, 47, is the second oldest player in NHL history, behind only Gordie Howe.
A three-time Norris Trophy winner as the league’s top defenseman, Chelios started this season on the shelf with a broken leg, came back and got into 28 regular-season games. The Chicago native played four games in the second-round series against Anaheim, but was a healthy scratch against the Blackhawks, Friday night, for the third straight game.
“I knew … My age, the team, the young guys coming up,” said Chelios. “It was my choice to stay and I’m glad I did. There are 26 other teams that wish they were in my position and guys my age … there’s no one my age.”
What Chelios and Babcock agreed upon yesterday was that they’d prefer that the focus was on the two conference final series in the NHL.
“Yah it bothered me because it’s a blatant lie,” said Babcock. “But the problem we have here is that we’re talking about something that’s not current in hockey. … The players playing in the series and the four teams should be getting the attention.”
“Unfortunately, I wish we were talking about me playing,” said Chelios.
Chelios said that Roenick called him after making his on-air statements, saying “I’m sorry.”
“J.R. is J.R … The NHL would be boring without J.R.,” said Chelios. “I’m very happy here in Detroit, always have been. J.R. says stuff. What are you going to do?”