DETROIT – He wasn’t laughing so much earlier, but even Mike Babcock mustered a smile about the Jeremy Roenick affair Friday night when he was asked on “Hockey Night in Canada” whom he liked better, American, Canadian or Swedish players.

“Well, on this team I like Swedes, obviously,” Babcock said. “I was scared to death that they said I had reservations against Swedes. I would have had to hug a lot of guys this morning.”

For the record, CBC’s Mike Milbury said of the affair: “It was just silly. It was just Roenick trying to be supportive of his buddy, Chris Chelios, trying to do whatever he could to get him in the lineup.”

Silly, but others were having laughs with it, too.

Like ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, who asked Kirk Maltby on Friday morning if he was in the Game 3 lineup because he’s Canadian (replacing Muskegon, Mich.’s Justin Abdelkader).

“If that’s not stirring the pot, I don’t know what is,” Maltby laughed. “Ah, I’ll plead the fifth. I don’t know how to answer that.”

And another Red Wings defenseman, Dearborn’s Brian Rafalski, had the “J.R. being J.R., I guess” reaction to Roenick’s assertion Babcock didn’t care for American players like himself and Chelios.

“It’s really hampered my career here,” Rafalski joked of Babcock’s alleged dislike of American players. “He’s playing me on the first line with Nick (Lidstrom). Geez, he hates me.”

So why did Roenick say it? Does he believe it? Is the old Blackhawk trying to stir up trouble for the Wings?

Or is he just in love with the sound of his own voice?

Quick hits

For the record, the Versus studio analysts agreed with the CBC guys: Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Martin Havlat was clean and legal.

• The Wings were down to five defensemen after Kronwall was ejected, yet the D scored all three goals: Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Jonathan Ericsson.

• By the way, how come the Wings are saying Pavel Datsyuk hurt his foot? What happened to the lower-body injury? Is it some kind of trick?

• CBC play-by-play man Jim Hughson, spotting celebrities at the game: “There’s Kid Rock teaching Bobby Hull the lyrics to ‘All Summer Long.’?”


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