Red Wings give Jeff Blashill another chance

Winging It In Motown

The news we were expecting early next week and then were expecting the team to drop in a Friday news dump finally gave the announcement on their coaching future.

The short version aside from the tweet is that they’ve also parted ways with Dan Bylsma, the special teams coach for yet another year of feckless power play for the Wings.

Through his NHL career, Jeff Blashill has moved on from a championship Grand Rapids Griffins team that won with quality NHLers like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar to a 172-221-62 record. He took over a Wings team in decline and has been in charge through what should have already been the bottom. Based on the improvements from the previous year to the most-recent, it appears that might be the case.

Whether bringing him back was wise is something that has already sparked endless debate.

We haven’t been told what took so long, what Blashill’s pay structure compared around the league will be, or even how long the extension is. The team presser is below in its entirety. You’ll notice they almost go out of their way to avoid saying how long the extension is and they do highlight Blashill’s entire AHL coaching record, and bury his NHL overall numbers.

You know why.

DETROIT — Detroit Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman today announced that Jeff Blashill has agreed to a contract extension to remain head coach of the Red Wings. Additionally, Yzerman announced that assistant coach Dan Bylsma will pursue other NHL opportunities in 2021-22.

Blashill, 47, is in his 10th season with the organization in 2020-21, originally joining the Red Wings as an assistant coach for the 2011-12 season before spending three seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins from 2012-15. In his six seasons as head coach of the Red Wings, Blashill has overseen a transitional period for the organization and has helped a number of top prospects work their way up the depth chart and become impact NHL players, including captain Dylan Larkin, who is the team’s leading scorer in Blashill’s tenure, and defenseman Filip Hronek, who led the Red Wings in average time on ice this season for the second-straight year as a 23-year-old. In 2020-21, former first-round draft picks Michael Rasmussen (ninth overall, 2017) and Filip Zadina (sixth overall, 2018) earned full-time NHL roles and saw their responsibilities increased as the season progressed.

Currently the third-longest tenured head coach in the NHL, Blashill guided the Red Wings to a more competitive season in 2020-21, as the team finished 19-27-10 to surpass its 2019-20 season win total (17), despite playing 15 fewer games, and improved from 39 points to 48. Additionally, the Red Wings increased their goals for per game from 2.00 to 2.25 and decreased their goals against per game from 3.73 to 3.00; they won twice as many games by two-or-more goals (14) and seven times as many by three-or-more goals (7); and they took points in 19-of-20 games (17-1-2) when scoring three-or-more goals, an improvement over a 13-7-3 mark in such contests from a season ago. Despite missing multiple key forwards to injury throughout the final month of the regular season, the team picked up points in 10 of its final 14 games (6-4-4). Over Detroit’s final 22 games, its team goals against was the sixth-lowest in the league (2.50) and its penalty kill was the NHL’s second-best (91.2%). Blashill’s overall head coaching record in the NHL stands at 172-221-62, and he ranks sixth in franchise history in both games coached (455) and wins.

At the international level, Blashill was tabbed as head coach of the United States for three-straight IIHF World Championships from 2017-19, and has worked six tournaments for USA Hockey over his coaching career. At the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark, the Americans finished 6-1 in group play and defeated Canada for the second time in the tournament during the bronze medal game, marking the fifth time in the history of the tournament that Team USA won a medal. Blashill previously helped Team USA capture medals at the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (silver) and the 2009 World Junior A Challenge (gold).

Prior to being named head coach of the Red Wings, Blashill served as head coach of the Griffins and led the team to three of the most successful seasons in the franchise’s history, combining for a 134-71-12-11 regular-season record. In 2012-13, the Griffins captured the first of two-straight Midwest Division titles and eventually the first Calder Cup championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. No team played more playoff games (50) than the Griffins during Blashill’s run as head coach. He won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding coach in 2013-14 and served as a head coach at the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic.

Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Blashill joined the Red Wings organization after one season as head coach at Western Michigan University in 2010-11, where he doubled the Broncos’ win total from the previous season and led the school to its first appearance in the CCHA championship game since 1986. He finished as a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year by College Hockey News, Inside College Hockey and Blashill made his head coaching debut with the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice, compiling a 73-43-5 record as head coach and general manager from 2008-10. Indiana won a franchise-record 39 games in 2008-09 and won the Clark Cup as champions of the USHL.

Blashill began his coaching career with four seasons as an assistant coach for his alma mater, Ferris State University, from 1998-02, where he played goaltender from 1994-98. He later spent six seasons as an assistant coach with Miami University (2002-08), where the RedHawks qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times.

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