There is no doubt in Mike Babcock’s mind that he wants to be behind the bench when Team Canada defends its gold medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“I would relish that opportunity again,” Babcock told The Canadian Press in an interview Thursday. “You could say, `Why would you go, you’ve already won it?’
“Why wouldn’t you win two?”
It’s the same attitude that has guided Babcock to an unparalleled career in hockey and also shines through in his latest project. The Detroit Red Wings coach is trying his hand as an author after penning “Leave No Doubt,” which is described as a “credo for chasing your dreams.”
Babcock came up with that saying during a discussion with longtime friend Rick Larsen in 2009 and used it extensively while guiding the Olympic team to gold in Vancouver 2010.
The unforgettable two-week event serves as the backdrop for the motivational story told by Babcock and Larsen in “Leave No Doubt.” The pair spent the past two summers working on the manuscript and only approached McGill-Queen’s University Press once it was completed.
Ultimately, Babcock felt compelled to have the book published because he thought its message could help readers.
“I had parents that built a good foundation for me, gave me an opportunity and then I’ve been able to chase my dreams right from the get-go and had a lot of success along the way,” said Babcock. “I just believed there was lots of people out there that have the same opportunity if they embrace doing so. …
“Now there’s going to be lots of people that don’t agree with anything I say or don’t like it. That’s life. But the bottom line is I wrote it.”
The result is a 138-page book—an “airplane read” in the words of Babcock—that is slated to hit stores across the country on April 14.
Babcock has found success at every level of hockey. The only coach to gain membership in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Triple Gold Club, he has won five significant titles: CIS championship (1994), world junior championship (1997), IIHF World Hockey Championship (2004), Stanley Cup (2008) and Olympic gold (2010).
Along the way, he always used motivational phrases to help focus his teams. It took a considerable amount of time to settle on the message that would be plastered on Team Canada’s dressing room walls in Vancouver.
“I think ‘Leave No Doubt’ came from the fact that we’re going to compete in the Olympics and it’s going to be in Canada and we want the world to understand that it’s our game,” Babcock explained. “But the reality is the only way it can be really called your game is if you win. And so that ‘Leave No Doubt’ was we’re going to put together a machine that gets this done.”
The rest is history.
Babcock admits to experiencing brief moments of doubt during the Olympics—he recalls having his legs shake involuntarily prior to the team’s first game—but believes that fear was removed from the team at crucial moments because of its meticulous preparation, attention to detail and unwavering commitment to realizing a dream.
For Babcock, that is a strategy which can be applied effectively in any situation.
“Everybody has (doubt),” he said. “The most confident people in the world have doubt but what they do is they push through it. Now they’ve built a foundation over time and believe that they can. But the reality is is there always doubt.”
The Olympic experience clearly left and indelible mark on Babcock.
More than two years later, he still gets emotional while explaining what those two weeks meant for him and his family. Prior to setting off for Vancouver, Babcock and his wife Rene sat down with children Michael, Allie and Taylor to discuss the likelihood that he would shoulder some of the blame if Canada failed to win gold.
“We talked about the fact we’re going to be the same people and we’re going to go on and have the same life,” said Babcock.
It was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman plans to name his 2014 coaching staff in the fall after the NHL determines whether it will continue to participate in the Games. Even though there’s no guarantee of another storybook ending in Sochi, Babcock hopes to get the call.
“You say yes because you believe,” he said. “You believe in the opportunity and that’s all you can ask for in life. The other thing is a message you want to send to your children—reach out and grab it.
“Believe in yourself, believe in your work ethic, believe in the job you’re going to do and the players you have in your country. And in the end if you do a good enough job you’re going to have a chance and that’s all you can ask for.”