TORONTO — Mike Babcock scoffs at the notion that he simply shows up to coach the Canadians and they keep winning best-on-best games, a streak that has run to 14.
"I think that's what you guys think," he bristled at reporters.
Whatever anyone things, Babcock has helped Canada win gold at the last two Olympics and he has the team rolling into the best-of-three World Cup of Hockey finals against Team Europe, with Game 1 tonight (8, ESPN).
His counterpart is simply happy to have a shot to coach hockey again. Ralph Krueger was fired a few years ago by the Oilers, via Skype, while sitting on his daughter's bed. He was let go after Edmonton went 19-22-7 during the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
He got an opportunity to bounce back — from Babcock. He asked Krueger to help the team as a consultant at the Sochi Games and they became friends, attending non-hockey events at the 2014 Olympics and swapping water skiing stories in recent years.
"Mike called me 12 hours later to ask me to come to the Olympic Games with Canada, so that's Mike Babcock," said Krueger, a Canadian who has known Babcock since 2004.
Now they match wits as competitors in a tourney in which Canada seems to have everything to lose as a heavy favorite and Team Europe, which draws players from eight nations, has everything to gain
Kruger coached the Swiss at three Olympics, including in 2006 when he helped them to sixth place — one spot ahead of Canada, a team they beat 2-0 — and fourth place at the 1998 World Championships.
Europe will be without one of its key players — and so will the Kings fir the first part of the NHL season — as forward Marian Gaborik will miss eight weeks with a foot injury. Europe general manager Miroslav Satan said Gaborik was injured during Sunday's 3-2 semifinal overtime win over Sweden.
Bruins: Forward Brad Marchand signed an eight-year, $49 million contract extension. The team announced the deal on Monday as Marchand prepares to play for Canada in the World Cup finals.