Red Wings coach Mike Babcock often stresses the importance of enjoying the experience of everything that comes with being in the NHL, from the grind of the regular season to the greatness of the NHL playoffs.

It’s a message he’s wanted his players to absorb, but it applies to himself, too. Especially this season. As challenging as it’s been to adjust from a veteran team to a largely youthful one, guiding them towards tonight’s Game 3 against the Blackhawks has been a blast.

“It’s fun, it’s the most fun I’ve had coaching in a couple of years, by far,” Babcock said after an optional practice Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. “Just because we’ve got an enthusiastic group. Not that we didn’t before, but we’ve got a really enthusiastic group. We’ve got good leadership.

“At the start of the year, we weren’t a good team, but we understand that. We buckled down and we got better. The coaching staff is fun, the players are fun, it’s been a fun year for us.”

Babcock said he’d have had the same answer even before the Wings upset the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks and split the opening games against the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks.