Detroit Red Wings Extend Jeff Blashill 3-years

Mark Newman / Grand Rapids Griffins

Good news on the front office front today.

The Griffins will continue to be in good hands for the near future.

Going into this week, reports were that Ken Holland was going to start working on locking up both his head coaches to extensions as soon as possible. With Mike Babcock coming into the final year of his deal with the Wings, Holland has at least moved to shore up the guy responsible for turning Red Wings prospects into NHL-ready players who are already familiar with the way the top organization runs things.

Blashill originally signed on with the Wings in 2011 after leading Western Michigan for one very good season. He spent his first season behind Babcock on the Wings' bench before being given the Griffins' job. All he's managed to do in Grand Rapids so far is win the franchise's first ever Calder Cup Championship.

There's been a lot of scuttlebutt around hockey in the past few months about the future of Mike Babcock and the Red Wings' coaching. Detroit had previously denied other teams permission to interview Blashill for jobs, making it very clear they want to retain him. I believe that Blashill is doing a very good job in Grand Rapids preparing the youth for the NHL and could very well already be earmarked as the next Wings' coach as soon as Babcock decides he wants to do something else. Locking him up for three years could indicate such a succession plan, but I might not read that much into this as it's also a fairly standard length for coaching deals.

With the Griffins in good hands for the near future, now it's a matter of waiting and hoping to see the other coach extended now.

Here's the official release:

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings today agreed on a new three-year contract with Jeff Blashill to remain the head coach of the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

"Jeff Blashill has done a tremendous job in Grand Rapids," said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. "Our young players were instrumental in getting us into the playoffs for a 23rd straight season, and the championship experience they got under Jeff in Grand Rapids was invaluable in turning those young players into NHL players. We're excited to keep one of the top young coaches in hockey to continue to lead in the development of the next wave of Red Wings."

"I'm thrilled to be able to remain with the Griffins," said Blashill. "Both the Red Wings and Griffins are top-notch organizations filled with talented people that I enjoy working with. My family loves it here, and I'm happy to be able to continue to call Grand Rapids home. The AHL is a very challenging league, and we have a great group of young players and veteran leaders. I'm looking forward to being able to continue to work with them."

Blashill, 40, has been in the Red Wings' organization for the past three seasons, spending one season as an assistant coach in Detroit before being named the head coach of the Griffins prior to the 2012-13 season. In his first season with Grand Rapids, which had missed the playoffs four times in its previous five years (2008-12), he led the team to a Midwest Division regular-season title and its first-ever Calder Cup championship. Blashill and the Griffins improved on their regular-season record in 2013-14, tying for fifth overall in the AHL with a 46-23-2-5 record (W-L-OTL-SOL), but they fell to eventual the Western Conference-champion Texas Stars in the second round of the playoffs.

Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Blashill won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding coach for the 2013-14 season, as voted on by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league's 30 cities. He was also the head coach for the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic, which pitted AHL All-Stars in a skills competition and All-Star Game against Farjestads BK of the Swedish Hockey League in the first international All-Star event in the league's history.

Blashill's impact has also been felt in Detroit, as 13 players from his 2013 Calder Cup championship team skated for the Red Wings this season, including eight who went on to appear in the postseason this year with Detroit in Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Joakim Andersson, Brian Lashoff and Luke Glendening. A total of 17 players skated for both Detroit and Grand Rapids during the 2013-14 season, including nine who made their NHL debuts.

Prior to his tenure with the organization, Blashill spent one season (2010-11) as the head coach for the CCHA's Western Michigan Broncos and led the team to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996 and first appearance in the CCHA championship game since 1986. He was named a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year by College Hockey News, Inside College Hockey and USCHO.com. His first head coaching experience came with the USHL's Indiana Ice, which captured the 2009 Clark Cup championship and compiled a 72-43-5 regular-season record during his two seasons at the helm.

Blashill's coaching career began with four seasons as an assistant at Ferris State University from 1998-02, where he began coaching following a four-year career as a goaltender for the Bulldogs. He also spent six seasons (2002-08) as an assistant with Miami University and has been a member of Team USA's coaching staff on three occasions: the 2009 World Junior A Challenge, the 2009 World Junior Championship and the 2006 U-18 Junior World Cup.

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