Now, I know how most, if not all, of you feel about Mike North and Monsters in The Morning - but this is different. JR is involved.
Our beloved hero Jeremy Roenick was on Monsters in The Morning today and had this to say about the relationship between Chelios and Babcock:
If you'd know some of the things that Babcock says to Chris Chelios, it would make your stomach churn. Just total disrespect for not even just one of the best Americans, but one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. The way he is talked to is just unacceptable. I wish I could ellaborate but that's not proper but I will say it's just disrespectul.
Here's a link to the radio show - click the link to the JR segment then fast forward to about 33 Minutes in when Roenick actually calls in.
So JR chalks up at least some of the disrespect to a feeling Babcock, who was born in Ontario, has towards American players... interesting...
Now, the Wings have 5 Americans on their team (same number as the Blackhawks if you count the current playoff roster). One of them is the recent call up Justin Abdelkader, another is backup Ty Conklin who played in 40 games this year - the last one being the loss to Chicago on April 11th. Neither of those players have had big roles with the team, so lets ignore them.
The other two remaining Americans are Brett Lebda and Brian Rafalski. Lebda played in 65 regular season games and is averaging 13:30 minutes a night. He's not a crucial piece of the Wings but it's mostly because he's not as good as most of them. He's gets the least ice time of any defenders. Lets ignore him too.
JR's assertion that Babcock has it in for American players doesn't quite make sense though when you consider Rafalski. Rafalski, born in Dearborn MI, is consistently paired up with Lidstrom and has been logging close to 22 minutes a game in the playoffs. He's a key peice to the Wings D and the Wings struggled without him in the series against Anaheim where he only played two games.
So is it the case that Rafalski is too valuable for Babcock to treat poorly and not play? Possibly.
Could it also be the case that Babcock realizes Chelios simply isn't that good anymore and that's why he's not playing? Probably.
Chelios is 47 years old now - in the 28 games he played in this year he has Zero goals, zero assists, a +/- of +1, more PIM than SOG and was only averaging 11:40 TOI in the games he did see time in.
He also thought this was a good hair cut to have while getting his player profile picture taken:
Clearly his judgment is slipping..
So is there proof to back up the claim that Babcock has it in for Chelios because he's American, no. There's proof that Babcock isn't playing him simply because the game has passed him by.
You could make the case that the Wings really only have one American born player who plays a big role for the team - and that supports the notion that Babcock doesn't like American players. But that's a weak argument. Especially since it's the GM's job to sign players, not the coach.
Does all this mean that Babcock isn't acting like a total dick? Not by a long shot. If what JR says is true about Babcock being outright disrespectful and insulting to Chelios then there's a problem. For now, it's all hearsay though so why even bother speculating on it?
And besides, insulting Chelios is our job.. not Babcock's.
Other gems from the interview with JR:
He definitely curses on the air at 33:49 saying "it's fucking awesome" while discussing the Hawks being the WCF.
He also isn't really sold on Campbell - he dances around the question of if he thinks Campbell is turnover prone and in general doesn't seem to be close to being his biggest fan.
Speaking of dancing, did you hear that JR might be on that Dancing with the Stars show? Weird...