Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings announced on Saturday that contracts for Jeff Blashill, Doug Houda, and Jeff Salajko will not be renewed.
Blashill was selected as Mike Babcock’s replacement following the 2014-2015 season. He was chosen in part because of his reputation as a development coach and his winning ways at every previous level he’d coached, including in the USHL with the Indiana Ice and in the NCAA with Western Michigan. It would be a tough task for him to helm the Red Wings, however, as the team was already in decline when he took over. He amassed a record of 204-261-72 and only one playoff appearance as the skipper, which served as a rude awakening to a fan base who’d gotten accustomed to having their team be the envy of the league.
Doug Houda was hired in 2016 and served as Blashill’s assistant for six seasons. Jeff Salajko was also joined the team in 2016, replacing the highly popular goaltending coach, Jim Bedard.
A lot of fans are going to be very excited about this change. Blashill and his crew have been the primary targets of blame for the past several seasons that can be described as mostly miserable. Personally, I feel some of the blame was fair and some was unfair. While Blashill certainly made a number of questionable moment-to-moment decisions in games, he was also the coach who had to bear the burden of a number of bad decisions made by those above him in the organization, including some poor draft choices by Ken Holland and the scouting department, as well as paying back the debt for Mike Ilitch’s playoff mandate. And yet, he was the head coach for a lot of miserable seasons. For context, a Red Wings fan needs to be around 40 years old to even begin having memories where the team struggled this much. It was Jeff Blashill who was the coach when the Big Red Machine was really, truly over.
While I was a holdout for Blashill long past most fans patience for him, the writing really seemed to be on the wall after the Red Wings came back from the All-Star break and tanked what had been a season to be optimistic about with young stars Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider as well Dylan Larkin really hitting his stride. While a few may wish that Yzerman had stayed the course with Blashill, most will be happy and the rest (like me) will at the very least believe it’s time for change.
Best of luck to Blashill, Houda, and Salajko in the future.