Mike Babcock will sit by a fire one night this summer at his Canadian lake house with his brother-in-law to appreciate what he's accomplished in the NHL.
"When everyone else leaves, you get a chance to feel good for a few minutes and then get on with it," Babcock said Sunday, a day after his Detroit Red Wings beat Pittsburgh 5-0 to take a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup finals. "I think it's important to really enjoy all these opportunities. And I've tried to talk about that to our players, and I talked about that to my family.
"You don't know when you'll get this opportunity again."
Babcock doesn't always have his team in the Stanley Cup finals.
It has just seemed that way lately because he's done it three times in his six seasons behind an NHL bench.
Babcock helped the Red Wings hoist the Cup last year against Pittsburgh and his Anaheim Ducks lost to New Jersey in Game 7 of the 2003 finals as a first-year coach in the league.
"Not winning it is absolutely devastating," he recalled.
Babcock hopes to win another title, ideally Tuesday night in Game 6 at Pittsburgh, even though it will be at the expense of one of his former players and assistants, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma.
He played for Babcock in Anaheim and was on his staff in Cincinnati, where the Ducks and Red Wings shared an AHL team.
"The one thing that I really learned from Mike Babcock as a player, looking forward to coaching and how I was going to be a coach, is the foundation he builds systematically and work-ethic accountability," Bylsma said. "He continues to go back to the foundations of, 'This is how we play. This is what we do.' That's the foundation you need to have success."
Babcock demands that his players skate and hit hard at both ends of the ice and crash the net to score the gritty goals.
It has been a successful blueprint.
Babcock has won more games in the playoffs (58) and regular season (282) than any other NHL coach in his first six seasons.
Scotty Bowman, Glen Sather and Fred Shero and Babcock are the only coaches in the expansion era that started four decades ago to coach in three Stanley Cup finals in their first six seasons.
Babcock's .659 winning percentage in the playoffs trails only the rate of success Sather (.686) and Toe Blake (.764) had among coaches with at least 20 postseason games in their first six seasons, according to STATS.
Red Wings forward Kris Draper said Bowman, who ended his coaching career in Detroit seven years ago, and Babcock share the same passion to win and ability to get teams ready.
"The one thing that you know from both coaches is that we always felt that we were prepared," Draper said. "Babs takes a lot of pride in just making sure that game in and game out, our hockey team is prepared and there aren't any surprises.
"That's exactly what he's going to do over the next couple of days. He's going to go over a ton of video."
Whether it's a game that could win a championship or a preseason morning skate, Babcock's steely glare is on display.
When the NHL emerged from its work stoppage in 2005, Detroit didn't give coach Dave Lewis a chance to return and hired Babcock away from the Ducks, who only offered him a one-year deal to stay.
The Red Wings got too cozy playing for Lewis, a former Red Wing and a longtime assistant, but it was clear that wouldn't be possible under Babcock.
During a morning skate before an exhibition game four years ago, players were simply gliding around the ice and Babcock didn't care for their pace.
"Let's go!" he shouted.
Instantly, the Red Wings started skating faster and their days of coasting and relying on their resumes were over.
The change of culture didn't result in postseason success right away because Detroit lost in the first round of the 2006 playoffs, but they got to the conference finals the next year, won the Cup last June and are set up to repeat.
The change in stakes Tuesday night, though, will not alter Babcock's approach.
"It's the same as always," he insisted. "It doesn't have enough flair for you, but it's the facts.
"As much as everyone wants to get caught up in momentum and carry-over and all that stuff, I've said many times I'm not a big believer in that. I'm a big believer in being prepared, getting focused and executing. If you do all those things, you have a chance to get lucky."