Zach Parise had just tied the Olympic gold-medal game with 24 seconds to play in regulation.
In the stands, Mike Babcock’s youngest daughter Taylor burst into tears while people across Canada began to fret. But in the dressing room Babcock stood before a group of confident players who were just minutes away from the golden goal.
“There may have been doubt out in the stands, in the streets of Vancouver, or in living rooms across the country,” Babcock wrote in “Leave No Doubt,” his newly released book.
“There was no way doubt was getting in the dressing room on that day. Not during that game. Not in that moment.”
For Babcock, moments are what life is all about.
The Detroit Red Wings coach shares his views on what it takes to be successful in “Leave No Doubt,” a breezy 138-page read due for release in bookstores across Canada on Thursday. The story is set against the backdrop of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics—”I’ve never felt anything like it”—although Babcock takes his readers well beyond the hockey rink.
It all began with the simple credo that makes up the title of the book. Babcock and longtime friend Rick Larsen, his co-author, came up with the “Leave No Doubt” slogan in July 2009 and it formed the foundation for how the Canadian Olympic team prepared for the most pressure-packed tournament imaginable.
The words hung in the team’s dressing room and were accompanied by a longer manifesto that encouraged players to put everything on the line and embrace the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was presented to them in Vancouver.
Babcock developed the belief system while progressing from coaching the University of Lethbridge’s hockey team in 1993 to earning the job at the Vancouver Games. Along the way, he became the first coach to capture a CIS championship (1994), world junior championship (1997), IIHF World Hockey Championship (2004), Stanley Cup (2008) and, eventually, Olympic gold.
Even though “Leave No Doubt” takes readers behind the scenes with Team Canada, its message is directed at a much wider audience than fans of the sport. The coach hopes everyone can find some motivation in the story.
“I want to help people who want to make moments happen,” Babcock wrote. “People who understand that days, months, and even years can blur, but moments make up the photo album of your memory. Moments happen when we meet our potential.”
Babcock readily acknowledges that everyone experiences doubt in their lives—he even had a brief flicker of it himself after touching down to a wild scene in Vancouver back in February 2010. But his manifesto outlines a strategy to overcome it through hard work and daily commitment and preparation.
Those points are reinforced in the book using the touchstone moments for Team Canada in Vancouver: narrowly beating Switzerland in a shootout, losing to the Americans in round-robin play, Babcock’s decision to replace goaltender Martin Brodeur with Roberto Luongo and Parise’s late tying goal for the U.S. in the gold-medal game.
Babcock believes it was a blessing that it came so late in regulation because it gave the players a chance to regroup during the intermission. He used that break to urge them on.
“There’s so much talent on the ice, this thing will be over quickly,” Babcock told the team. “In the next seven or eight minutes, one of you will be a hero for the rest of your life. It’s time to put your foot on the gas and go after them.”
Everyone knows what happened next.
Sidney Crosby embraced the moment by beating Ryan Miller seven minutes 40 seconds into overtime and sent the entire country into celebration. It was exactly the type of ending Babcock and his players had been imagining and working towards for more than a year.
Ultimately, he believes that made a difference.
“Confidence enables you to make strong choices,” Babcock wrote. “Confidence helps you get beyond doubt. Confidence gets you ready for big moments. We had won the game before we hit the ice.
Leave No Doubt, 138 pages, McGill-Queen’s University Press, $19.95.