DETROIT, MICH -- With the announcement of a new head coach, comes a lot of interesting dialogue from newly appointed Jeff Blashill, and general manager Ken Holland.
At first we were all under the impression that Blashill would receive a three-year deal as head coach. To the contrary, Ken Holland revealed that this was a deal that had terms of four years, just one year longer than what Holland has left on his contract with Detroit.
"I think any coaching job I've gone into, you have to earn the team's respect. I will give them respect, and in return I hope that they give me their respect" said Blashill about his task of becoming familiar with his team. "You have to earn their respect by your daily actions." While the new head coach has already earned respect from the core of youth, he will have to take some time getting familiar with the veteran core of the Detroit Red Wings.
"I loved my job in Grand Rapids, loved the city, the people involved, the ownership, we had a great experience. When you’re in a great situation you’re not in any rush to go anywhere else. Second part is, I am good friends with Babcock, i knew there was uncertainty, and if there was one team I wanted to coach in the NHL, it would be the Red Wings."
Jeff Blashill was born in Southfield, Michigan. He grew up in Sault St. Marie, his father was a Police Officer in the city of Detroit in his younger years. He is the first American-born head coach in Detroit Red Wings history. It is clear that he is a Michigan man, and he wasn't going anywhere. He wanted to be here, and he wants to stay here. When he was offered the job from ex-coach Mike Babcock, Babcock called him and left him a voicemail: "'Jeff, this is Mike Babcock with the Detroit Red Wings in Michigan.' I said, Mike, I know who you are, and I know that Detroit is in Michigan."
"I can’t speak particular to anything different, I don’t like to talk about what’s done in the past, I have my own approach. i coach very similar to how babcock coached, but I’m my own person, how I deal with players and things on a daily basis, i’ll be Jeff Blashill."
There were many questions to Blashill about who he will choose as his assistant coaches, and when he would like to have them in place:
"I have a list of potential candidates, and I would like to have them on board within the next week if possible."
Ken Holland spoke with the media today as well, he dished up on what the plan going forward will be.
"What we’re doing on the fly, we’re trying to go younger. We got some young people in GR that he’s familiar with, so we’ve got some tough decisions to make. He knows the organization just as well as anyone else here."
Ken Holland went on to say that players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, Petr Mrazek, and Danny DeKeyser's experience over the past two years are going to be a huge part in the leadership core of this team going forward. "Getting 100 points this year with the core of youth that we had is a huge step in the right direction" said the Red Wings general manager. When asked about the UFA market this year:
"The players available in free agency this year are support players. We need to draft and develop the next core for this team. The young players in our organization are the answer."-Ken Holland
With all that being said, the organization is committed to youth. They now have the second youngest coach in the NHL, and have a promising farm of youth waiting in the ranks below who will soon become a part of this core. "Greatness is a daily choice," an aphorism that Jeff Blashill had implemented with his team down in Grand Rapids, will come with him to Detroit. Not only will he influence the players he has coached over the years in the AHL, but it will influence the players who have been a part of the Red Wings for so many years.
More from the Red Wings organization:
Blashill, 41, joined the organization in 2011-12, spending one season behind the Red Wings’ bench as an assistant coach before being named head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate, on June 25, 2012. With the Griffins, Blashill led the club to three of the most successful campaigns in franchise history, highlighted by a 2012-13 campaign that saw Grand Rapids capture a regular-season Midwest Division title and eventually the first Calder Cup championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. In 2014-15, the Griffins won the Midwest Division after reaching 100 points for the first time during Blashill’s tenure with a 46-22-6-2 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record over the AHL’s 76-game slate. The club advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons before falling to the Utica Comets in six games.
Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Blashill won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding coach in 2013-14 and was named head coach for the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic. In his three seasons with Grand Rapids, he compiled a 134-71-12-11 regular-season record and a 29-21 mark in the postseason, winning seven of nine total playoff series. He is the only coach in Griffins history to qualify for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, leading the team to 92 points or better each year.
Twenty-four players who skated for the Griffins over the last three seasons went on to play at least one NHL game, including Joakim Andersson, Danny DeKeyser, Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, who have all moved up to full-time roles with Detroit after winning the Calder Cup with Blashill in 2013. A total of 15 players who appeared for Detroit in 2014-15 spent time in Grand Rapids over the past three years. Additionally, 11 current Red Wings were also regulars in 2011-12, which Blashill spent as an assistant coach in Detroit, helping the team to a 12th consecutive 100-point season.
Blashill joined the Red Wings’ organization after one season as the head coach at Western Michigan University in 2010-11, where he doubled the Broncos win total from the previous season and led the school to its first appearance in the CCHA Championship game since 1986. He finished as 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. Blashill made his head coaching debut with the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice, compiling a 72-43-5 mark as head coach and general manager from 2008-10. The Ice earned a franchise-record 39 wins in 2008-09 and won the Clark Cup as champions of the USHL.
A former goaltender at Ferris State University, Blashill was the Bulldogs’ Rookie of the Year in 1994-95 and earned a spot on the CCHA All-Academic Team in 1996-97. He began his coaching career with four seasons as an assistant coach for Ferris State from 1998-02, followed by six seasons in the same role with Miami University in which the RedHawks qualified for the NCAA tournament four times. Blashill represented the United States as an assistant coach at international tournaments on three occasions: the 2009 World Junior A Challenge (gold medal), the 2009 World Junior Championship (fifth place) and the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (silver medal).