I want to step back from the frustration that I feel about who plays and who doesn't and under what situations. Let's have a discussion about Babcock's strengths and weaknesses as the RW coach. Here's my take:
What I've come to realize is that coaches like Babcock - at this point of his tenure - will make decisions which protect his own interest as opposed to what's best for the team. Every coach in one way or another tries to protect his job. With Babcock it's all about security and who he perceives he can trust. For him that means safe, formulaic decision like playing Cleary in situations where he has had success in the past - even though the current evidence suggests otherwise. I could go one about other personnel decisions, but it's clear that Babcock is a very conservative guy that wants to fall back on what has worked in the past.
My belief is that he has made questionable ice time decisions from the 2009 finals going forward. He doesn't reward or punish players based on game-time performance. He has a vision of what he thinks should work and doesn't stray from it regardless of the on-ice evidence.
Having said all that, I have no idea to what extent what goes on in practice effects who plays.
Don't get me wrong - I think he is a heart and soul kind of guy that believes in all the good work ethic type things, but I think he lacks the game management skills that good coaches in any sport have. Coaches have to adjust to the situation at hand despite all well thought out plans. Up to recently, this ability has been less important due to the nature of the talent the wings could always put on the ice. Plug in the personnel and see what happens... Not too hard when more often then not higher skill beats lesser.
However, those days are past us and the post-Lidstrom days are upon us. Babcock needs to coach in a different way. He needs to motivate as well as manage on-ice personnel in a much more dynamic way then he has had to before.
Frankly, based on evidence, I don't think he is up to it - but I'd like to create a discussion around it.