OctoPulse podcast: Jeff Blashill coach of the year candidate, Nick Libett interview

Detroit News


Ted Kulfan takes a look at the improving Red Wings (12-9-4), who have won four games in a row heading into Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders at Little Caesars Arena and ex-Red Wing Nick Libett is the interview guest on this week’s podcast.

In episode 63 of OctoPulse, Kulfan says Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is “one of the leading contenders” for the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL coach of the year.

“He’s done a wonderful job,” Kulfan said on the podcast. “He’s guided the team perfectly. He’s been through the bad times just like some of the nucleus on the team.

“They’ve gained a lot of experience the last couple of years. You can tell they’re a much more mature team and he has a really good pulse on this team.”

In Kulfan’s story today at detroitnews.com, he says the Red Wings’ resurgence has been led by an impressive trio of rookies.

Winger Lucas Raymond leads all rookies with 22 points, defenseman Moritz Seider leads all rookies in assists with 14 assists and goalie Alex Nedeljkovic leads all rookies with seven victories and a .923 save percentage.

Detroit also leads the NHL with 110 points from players under the age of 25.

Kulfan said Blashill’s odds of winning the award may be clearer after a difficult schedule in December, which includes road games against the St. Louis Blues (12-8-3), Colorado Avalanche (12-7-1), Carolina Hurricanes (15-6-1), Minnesota Wild (16-6-1) and New York Rangers (14-4-3) and home games against the Nashville Predators (12-10-1), Avalanche and the Washington Capitals (14-4-6) on New Year’s Eve.

“There are not many if any cupcakes at all on the schedule,” Kuflan said. “There’s a lot of tough teams, one after another. We’re going to know more about this team after they play Washington on New Year’s Eve. By that time, they’ll have gone through the gauntlet of a lot of playoff-tested teams here this month.

“If they’re still sitting where they are now more or less, I’ll take my cap off to them. That will be more of a surprise than even where they are now in the standings.”

The Jack Adams Trophy is named after former Red Wings GM and coach Jack Adams and is awarded by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.

Three Red Wings coaches have won the award since its inception in 1974: Jacques Demers (1987-1988, the only NHL coach to win back-to-back awards), Scotty Bowman (1996 and also the Jack Adams winner with the Montreal Canadiens in 1977) and Bobby Kromm (1978, a team which includes podcast guest Nick Libett).

Here are the other OctoPulse highlights:

1:00: Lucas Raymond on his individual success

3:25: Jeff Blashill on the team’s resiliency

5:20: Blashill’s odds of winning the Jack Adams Trophy

More: Mark Howe retires without fanfare after nearly 50 years in hockey

8:40: Blashill’s role in developing young players

10:20: Wings averaging 18 hits, 14 blocked shots per game

12:45: Nick Libett interview

36:00: NHL early season surprises, disappointments

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