The deal is one-for-one. Well, kind of.
There was no actual trade — but the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning did engage in a swap, of sorts, as former Wings coach Jeff Blashill on Tuesday was announced by the Lightning as the team’s new assistant coach.
He’ll fill a role left behind by Derek Lalonde, who was hired to be Blashill’s successor as Detroit’s bench boss in early July.
The ties of Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, who served as Tampa’s general manager from 2010-18, are a binding force between these two Atlantic Division foes. But while that may have been a strong reason Lalonde found his way to Detroit — he was originally hired in Tampa by Yzerman’s staff — Blashill has his relationship with Lightning coach Jon Cooper to thank for landing back behind an NHL bench.
The two go way back and got to know each other around lower-level coaching circuits in Michigan, and Blashill tipped his cap to Cooper shortly after being announced as the new Red Wings coach in 2015.
Blashill was not retained by the Wings after a catostrophic end to the 2021-22 season, in which the team appeared to show promise during the early stages. Too many utter collapses and lackluster defensive showings ultimately led to Blashill’s demise, but there’s confidence in a lot of hockey circles that Blashill remains a good coach.
“Jeff did an outstanding job of leading this team, this organization, in a very, very difficult circumstance,” Yzerman said in a press conference back in May. “Pardon the expression, but he ran a good program. This wasn’t a complete s—show. We were organized, our guys practiced hard.”
Blashill spent seven years with Detroit and amassed a record of 204-262-72. Detroit made the playoffs in his first season — a first-round exit at the hands of Tampa — but missed the playoffs in his next six season