In September 2010, after watching him in training camp, then Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said that Brendan Smith has the ability to "be a gamebreaker." (MLive)
In 2013 Babcock spoke about how Smith can't force things and that his role with the Red Wings was to kill penalties and "get the puck going." (MLive)
Babcock added, in 2013, that Smith was a work in progress but has done a "good job for us and the thing is he's ultra-competitive." (MLive)
In 2014, Babcock moved Smith up to forward for a bit, saying that, at a time when Detroit was beset with injuries, it was a decision he felt gave the Wings the best chance to win. (MLive)
Smith said that Babcock told him that they needed someone with his "speed and caliber" to play up front and that he would do whatever was needed to help the team win. (MLive)
In the 2015 playoffs, Babcock said that Smith is a player that "can really skate" and "competes." (Red Wings)
Helene St. James wrote before the 2015-16 season that Smith was still a work in progress and was also at times on a short leash with former coach Mike Babcock. (Lansing)
When he was traded last season, Detroit GM Ken Holland said that Smith "can skate" and that he's competitive. (Detroit News)
In his time under Babcock, Smith played in 195 games, had 10 goals, 37 assists, an even rating, 18 minutes per game, 154 hits, 180 blocked shots, 52 takeaways and 127 giveaways.
Adam Rotter: Smith seemed to struggle under Babcock because of his puck decisions but Babcock liked his compete level and his skating ability so he was still in the lineup more often than not. Smith seemed to take a step under Jeff Blashill and he was fine with the Rangers. He's not a perfect player and he will certainly make mistakes and have bad games, but he still had more good in his game with the Rangers than bad. He skates well and can move the puck, two key things in Alain Vigneault's system and also brings a nice level of physicality on defense.