The Red Wings fan base certainly have their share of opinions on head coach Jeff Blashill. With the team struggling at times, a mid-season change seemed like a possibility to many. Up north, a team already has made a change on the bench.
After a rough stretch of disappointing losses, the Canadiens made the decision earlier this week to fire their head coach, Claude Julien.
Many were taken aback by the move. In this odd year dominated by rules and regulations related to COVID-19, it seemed nearly assured that most coaches would retain their jobs – especially those with winning records and a fourth place spot in a heated division.
This in-season surprise has gotten many in the Red Wings fanbase to ponder – will the Red Wings fire their head coach?
The short answer is no.
To start, we need to look at the difference between the expectations of the teams.
The Red Wings are not the Canadiens
Montreal, coming off of a playoff appearance willed by Carey Price, is looking to continue an
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upward trend this season. Expectations are for at least a playoff appearance.
For the Wings, expectations for the season are just a bit different.
The Red Wings haven’t made the playoffs since the 2015 season. Since then, the Wings have only continued to falter, reaching new lows last year. The expectations for this season are minuscule. Games have been close and player development has been paramount.
The Canadiens are willing to take a risk in order to make a run to fulfill expectations -but Steve Yzerman is working off a different set of circumstances.
Yzerman sees this season as another full year of rebuilding. Although I’m sure he might disagree with some of the roster decisions (Fans do at least–with Evgeny Svechnikov sitting on the Taxi Squad, and Givani Smith still in Grand Rapids) he ultimately believes keeping Blashill will be the best choice for the future of the team.
If this was a normal year, there might be a little bit more of a chance that Blashill gets fired. Dylan Larkin‘s regression, Filip Zadina lacking confidence, and many prospects seemingly stuck in Grand Rapids are all arguments one can use in support of a change. However, the team does look more competitive. Is this a major or average improvement from last year? No. The team is only marginally better than it was last year.
The team is not completely falling apart, however. Barring the team completely coming apart at the seams, Yzerman’s decision to go with Blashill after last year’s disaster should show exactly what Yzerman’s expectations were this season. He knows just how far this team has to go – and isn’t willing to risk staff changes during a year like this. If he plans on letting go of Blashill, it’ll be by not renewing his contract at the end of this season.
I completely understand the fanbase’s frustrations with Blash. Some of his roster decisions have been head scratchers, and any sort of player development seems relatively non existent this year.
But we need to take a step back and assess the situation.
This is a rebuilding year, during a season completely altered by COVID-19. As frustrating as it might be, Yzerman doesn’t want to risk a staff change this season – and likely is fine with the excellent draft picks that will be waiting for him after finishing another season at the bottom.
So, to my fellow Red Wings fans, lets be patient, and give Stevie a bit of credit – he built something special in Tampa. So until something egregious happens, let’s give this Detroit legend the benefit of the doubt.