Jeff Blashill has been under the microscope of Red Wings fans ever since he replaced the departed Mike Babcock after the 2015 season. Blashill had served as an assistant under Babcock and was head coach of the Red Wings farm team in Grand Rapids for three years. Blashill won a Calder Cup Championship with the Griffins and it looked like he was the perfect fit to come in and coach some of the young players he coached to an AHL title.
During his first season as head coach in Detroit, the Red Wings made it to their 25th consecutive playoff appearance and lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Unfortunately for Blashill and for Red Wings fans, this was Detroit’s last appearance in the playoffs.
The Red Wings are now completing their 6th consecutive season of missing the playoffs. The team has slipped from 93 points during Blashill’s inaugural season behind the bench to 79,73,74, 39 (45 prorated), a prorated 70 in the pandemic shortened season last year, and an estimated 77 points this year.
From my perspective, Blashill should have been fired after the 2020 season when the team only accumulated 39 points in 71 games. How does a NHL coach keep his job when the team continues to regress to the lowest level in the league?
Blashill now has better players, yet, the team is far from being a playoff contender. Hey, I played hockey for 26 years, including four years of junior. The biggest thing I can say about any coach who is not winning, is that after seven seasons, the players are not listening any more.
Case in point. During the 9-2 thrashing by the Arizona Coyotes, Blashill was screaming on the bench. The players just sat there like nothing was happening. It was actually funny watching the players reactions. Then the tv camera focused on Detroit General Manager Steve Yzerman and it looked like he was ready to run down to the bench and coach the team himself.
Maybe that’s a great idea, fire Blashill and let Yzerman coach the team his way for the final month of the season.
I don’t disagree with many things Yzerman has done as General Manager. Everyone is entiltled to making a mistake, but the biggest mistake Yzerman has made so far is by letting his buddy Gerard Gallant sign on to coach the New York Rangers. The Rangers won the Alexis Lafreniere lottery when Detroit should have received the 1st pick in the 2020 draft. Now, after hiring Gallant, the Rangers have won 40 out of 64 games this year and look like a lock to make the playoffs.
At the Red Wings presser following the NHL Trade Deadline, Steve Yzerman was asked about Blashill’s future. In a typical Stevie comment, Yzerman had this to say,
“This has been an up and down year for us,” Yzerman said. “We had a lot of progress. The last six weeks of the season have been disappointing for all of us. Jeff and I will sit down at some point and talk about where we’re going with our team and what we need to do. But I don’t think this is the time to discuss our coaching staff or our coach.”
If I had to read between the lines, I would have to believe that Blashill’s days as the head coach of the Red Wings is coming to an end!!!!