Mike Babcock finally unveils where his passion for Mikael Samuelsson comes from. And no, this will not turn into a joke about penises.
"Sammy's one of these guys that's a way better player than he believes," Babcock said. "If he had the confidence in himself that some of these other guys do, he'd be a high-end NHL player. Right now, he's just a good NHL player."
The revelation was nothing that Babcock hasn't shared with Samuelsson.
"We've had that same conversation I don't know how many times," Babcock said. "He knows of this. He's scored big goals for us. He has the ability, he has a rocket of a shot - we're always on him to shoot more - and he's a huge man, just absolutely a monster. He can be really physical when he wants to be, he can really skate."
It has been joked about at length how Babcock loves him some Mikael Samuelsson. I don't recall seeing Babs break it down quite like this though. That's some serious praise. If you didn't know it, you would think that 2nd paragraph was about Johan Franzen.
We make light of his occasionally wayward "rocket of a shot", because it's easy. You see him wind up, and seconds later you hear the glass screeming in pain and fans ducking for cover under their seats. This is an easy thing to observe and then belittle him for on your stupid blog the next day. Trust me on this.
But let's look deeper into the world of Mikael Samuelsson. He's a man who loves poetry, dines on candied yams and is one of those "recycle Nazis" that come to your house and demand either a bag of empty bottles or your first born. These are all indisputable facts. What we often fail to acknowledge, however, is that he is a dogged defender -- an excellent complementary winger to any shut-down line. He goes through prolonged droughts scoring-wise, but he doesn't let it effect his defensive responsibility.
He's sometimes the most physical forward (well, mainly before Darren Helm ... which with each increasing day is like referring to pre-Jesus times) who can muck it out in the corners and push pucks along the boards. Or he can pick up a lose puck and wire one to the top corner, apparently, according to what my eyes think they saw in Game 1. And he's not a burner but he's got a good skating stride. Look at this. Did it look like Fleury saw that coming? Emerick was caught so off guard that his tongue almost fell out of his mouth.
So, does this make him the total package? Physical, sound in all three zones, good size, hard shot .... does this sound like a guy that never gets any credit? Of course not, it sounds like fucking Gordie Howe. I'm not saying that I'll never make fun of Samuelsson ever again ... quite the contrary, I'm currently working on a screenplay where I'm a wizard-for-hire and Sammy is a 22nd century lovechild of Helen Keller and a golden retriever. But his play of late definitely warranted some praise. Between he and Andreas Lilja, I don't know what to think anymore.