I don't really see what he said that was so awful.
He admits to being caught twice and having Quincey save him. kind of admits to being bad that game but thinks he's been good other games.
To me, this was the more interesting and cryptic comment from Babcock about Tatar.
I completely agree with you about the Tatar comments. It's really hard for me to figure out Babs actual thoughts on guys because I think he's often putting his sports psychology training into practice when he comments on them. It seems like he believes some guys respond well to criticism, and others need to be insulated from criticism. He's always really supportive of Smith, in spite of his troubles, but rarely gives Kindl any sort of encouragement without first "grounding" him a bit. I don't think he likes one more than the other, but he treats them very differently. I have to think that his comments about Tatar are just more of the same.
As far as Smith's comments, I don't recall a time when a player admitted to not knowing how to improve, and it's hard for me to believe that he hasn't been told why he's not in the lineup. Additionally, the "I am a minus-4, but if you watch those goals, I don’t think there’s a breakdown on my side" line bothers me because it points a finger at other players, and obscures the fact that his in zone coverage, and decision making with the puck has been terrible. If his play was up to par he wouldn't have been scratched twice in two games, so either he screwed up on those goals and isn't owning up to it, or he didn't screw up on those particular goals but every other facet of his game needs work. Either way, saying "the goals weren't my fault" deflects attention onto his teammates, and doesn't address whatever it is that has cost him a regular spot in the lineup.
I don't remember other young defensemen behaving that way.