MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will miss hockey coach Mike Babcock at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
With the NHL deciding not to interrupt its season to accommodate the Olympics, and Moir, who has won gold and silver medals in ice dancing with Virtue, said Babcock’s absence leaves a big hole — and not just in hockey.
“There are many Canadian Olympians who will talk about the impact Mike’s had on high-level Olympic athletes across the board, not just the hockey guys,” Moir said at Skate Canada’s high performance camp Wednesday. “We felt like Mike really made the (NHL) men a part of the team, they were always in the room with us. Mike would come into the gym and talk with us, and I know he did the same with the curlers, I know he did the same with Kaillie and Heather (Olympic bobsled champions Humphries and Moyse).”
Virtue and Moir have been friends with Babcock since his days coaching the Detroit Red Wings when the ice dancers skated out of a rink in nearby Canton, Michigan.
Babcock, now the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, coached Canada’s hockey team to gold medals in 2010 and 2014.
“He’ll be on speed dial for us, we’ll miss him there with us in the village,” Virtue said.
Moir, a lifetime Maple Leafs fan, joked that Babcock will “just have to make the Leafs win the Stanley Cup and make up for it to me.”
On the plus side, Moir said two of his childhood hockey teammates — Patrick McNeill and Justin Azevedo — might make Canada’s non NHL hockey Olympic hockey team, “so that’s kind of cool.”
Moir played alongside the two with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, saying “You could tell those two were going to be stars.”