Sports Leafs’ Babcock, Flames’ Gulutzan are brothers-in-arms of a sort

10:21  29 november  2017
10:21  29 november  2017 Source:   Toronto Star

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Bruce Arthur writes that the two NHL head coaches are Saskatchewan guys, for everything that means. The Saskatchewan coaching fraternity has spread far and wide.

Nothing bonds two National Hockey League coaches like being from a province where you can see your dog running away for miles. But according to Glen Gulutzan , Mike Babcock is more of a “big-city Saskatchewan guy.”. “And I’m from a small town,” said the Calgary Flames head coach with a chuckle.

Mike Babcock and the Leafs were in Calgary Tuesday night to take on Glen Gulutzan's Flames. Babcock and Gulutzan go way back and keep in touch during the summers, as good old Saskatchewan boys do.© Liam Richards Mike Babcock and the Leafs were in Calgary Tuesday night to take on Glen Gulutzan's Flames. Babcock and Gulutzan go way back and keep in touch during the summers, as good old Saskatchewan boys do.

CALGARY—Glen Gulutzan was asked about Mike Babcock, and he smiled. “He’s a good Saskatchewan guy there,” said the coach of the Calgary Flames, before adding a proviso. “Big-city Saskatchewan guy, though.”

For some people, no matter what you do, where you go, how many Stanley Cups or Olympic golds or all-time achievements you collect, you are still from Saskatchewan. Babcock, of course, was born in Manitouwadge, Ont., but was raised in Saskatoon; Gulutzan was born in The Pas, Man., but grew up in tiny Hudson Bay, which isn’t near a bay. They are Saskatchewan guys, for everything that means.

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“I just know growing up, and you can relate to the other guys who grew up there,” said Gulutzan before Babcock’s Leafs played Calgary Tuesday night.

“I grew up in a small town of 1,200 people. Like, your big dream was, ‘I’m going to go to Saskatoon.’ And when you’re in Saskatoon you’re going to college, you’re going to (the University of Saskatchewan), and you’re thinking, ‘Where am I going to go now? Am I going to head east? Am I going to head west?’ And most of us headed west.

“As I was coming up, even going back to the Dallas (AHL) days when I was in Austin, he was a guy that I talked to, talked to in the summers at times. And going back even to our (Canadian university hockey) days, when I was at U of S, so I knew him. And when you have a coach of that calibre and you’re young and you’re coming up, he reaches out to you from time to time and talks to you. It’s a good guy to grow and learn from, when I was young.”

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The Saskatchewan coaching fraternity has spread far and wide. Dave Tippett is from Moosomin, an old railway town; Todd McLellan is from Melville, another one. Willie Desjardins is from the tiny but exciting town of Climax, which also produced Gord Kluzak, the No. 1 pick in 1982. Dave King, one of the granddaddies of them all, was born in North Battleford. King coached Babcock and Desjardins at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon; McLellan studied there for a year. And Gulutzan played there against the Babcock team at the University of Lethbridge that went from last place to a national title.

As a coach, Gulutzan stole concepts from Babcock — drills, or how to coach big-time players. When they talk they can discuss duck hunting, or fishing, or the campus bar at the U of S, Louis’, the only place to go on a Friday afternoon. They all see each other in the summer, when they go home.

“It’s not like that it’s just anybody, and as you advance, there’s not a lot of guys that get to the American League level or to the NHL level, and so it ends up being those guys because you bump into each other at events and you get to know them over time,” said Babcock. “It just becomes natural.”

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LOOSE LEAFS . Going into play Tuesday, Gulutzan ’s Flames had 313 missed shots, fourth in the NHL. Gulutzan says he stole many practice drills from Babcock watching him work in Detroit …

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It’s the same for players — when Patrick Marleau (raised outside Aneroid, population 50) joined a Leafs team with Regina native Tyler Bozak, the first thing they did was talk about the weather growing up, about skating in minus-50 winds, about never staying home for a snow day from school. Bozak grew up skating on a backyard rink with a tree in the middle, playing with his dad and brother; Marleau would dig out a little rink on the farm. As Bozak puts it, “stuff the guys in here wouldn’t understand.”

It’s the same with coaches. As Gulutzan says, “Well you can call them on anything, right, because you knew where they grew up, if they get too country clubbish. I bug Willie and those guys, too. They’re from the flatlands, they’re from Southern Saskatchewan. I’m a Northern Saskatchewan guy, so we have trees and all that stuff.”

As for Babcock, Gulutzan says, “He’s a big deal, but he’s still the same guy. When we’re back in Sask doing these things, we’re at the Harold Latrace Arena (in Saskatoon), and we’re mucking it out, and sitting at tables at a curling club, having a beer with the guys. It’s easy to go back.”

Staying on the attack key for the Maple Leafs

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Mike Babcock Post Game: Capitals 4 vs. Leafs 2. Game Day Quotes. Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on the coaching emphasis for a game between two teams with good transition games They kind of get you all out of sorts in your d-zone, too.

With hockey trending towards money and urban areas, Saskatchewan might never produce another Gordie Howe, of Floral, Sask. But it has produced a generation of coaches, and two of them chatted in a hallway the day before their successful Canadian teams met Tuesday night. How it has all developed, nobody’s sure.

“I don’t know,” said Babcock. “This is what I’d tell you, is the people of Saskatchewan are fantastic. It’s a down-to-earth place, it’s a hard-working people, it’s a great spot to be from and I’m proud to be from there. Obviously, we had lots of good mentors over the years to help us along our way, but I don’t know the reason.”

“I don’t know why,” said Gulutzan. “Maybe it’s all we have there, that you want to get out. But I always thought, what people always said was, the best thing Saskatchewan has is its people.”

“And potash, and grain now, so they’re doing pretty good.”

Andersen stops 47 shots as Maple Leafs edge Flames .
Frederik Andersen stopped 47 shots through regulation and overtime, and three more in the shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat Calgary 2-1 on Wednesday for their second win over the Flames in eight days. William Nylander scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout, deking to the backhand to beat Mike Smith.Morgan Rielly scored for the Maple Leafs (18-10-1), who also downed Calgary 4-1 on Nov. 28.Mark Giordano scored for the Flames (14-12-2), who have dropped three in a row.Smith stopped 28 shots in a losing cause.

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