Jeff Blashill’s running joke while head coach of the Detroit Red Wings was how poor a coach Jon Cooper was.
Now the two can laugh about it behind the same bench: Blashill has joined the Tampa Bay Lightning coaching staff as an assistant to his longtime friend and colleague.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after the position opened in Tampa because Wings general manager Steve Yzerman hired former Lightning assistant Derek Lalonde to be head coach in Detroit. Yzerman announced April 30 that he would not extend Blashill’s tenure with the Wings.
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The announcement also comes after all the head coaching positions that became vacant after the season ended, a list that included the Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets, have been filled.
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Blashill, 48, was promoted to the Wings job in 2015, after the departure of Mike Babcock, having previously served as an assistant in Detroit in 2011-12, followed by three years as head coach of the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. Blashill took over the Wings as their decades of success waned and they entered a rebuild.
He never had particularly competitive rosters, especially after Pavel Datsyuk’s departure in 2016. Blashill went 204-26`-72 in 537 games. His only playoff appearance came in 2016, when the Wings lost to the Cooper-coached Lightning.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.