Tessa Virtue and Scott Moiri practice their routine at Skate Canada’s High Performance Camp in Mississauga, Ontario on Wednesday. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir say they’ll miss Mike Babcock at Olympics

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir say they won’t miss Canada’s NHL players in Pyeongchang so much as head coach Mike Babcock.

The NHL opted not to interrupt next season to accommodate the Pyeongchang Games, and Moir, who won Olympic gold and silver in ice dancing with Virtue, said Babcock’s absence leaves a big hole — and not just among the hockey team.

“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. The ice dancers skated out of a rink in nearby Canton, Mich.

Babcock coached Canada’s men’s hockey team to gold at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.

“He’ll be on speed dial for us, we’ll miss him there with us in the village (in Pyeongchang),” Virtue said.

Moir, a lifetime Maple Leafs fan, joked that Babcock, Toronto’s head coach, 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 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.”

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