Detroit Red Wings Season Preview: Coaching

The Coaching Staff

Lots of electronic ink is going to be spilled this season on the fate of head coach Mike Babcock and his future with the Detroit Red Wings. He's not the only coach in the stable though. Let's go through the Wings' coaching staff.

Those Old Familiar Faces

Mike Babcock has been the head coach behind the Wings bench since the end of the lockout before the last lockout. During that time, he's earned a spot in the Red Wings record books as the winningest coach in team history. Babcock led one of the most dominant hockey teams in the modern era to the franchise's 11th Stanley Cup in 2008 and came within one game of going back-to-back for the first time since the Wings last accomplished that feat in 1997 and 1998. Babs is an interesting case of being both a straight-shooter and a side-talker. The genius with a sports psychology degree isn't exactly a players' coach, but he gets the best out of players and is a lot more positive than his death stare would first lead on.

At the back end, the Wings' Jim Bedard has been the goaltending coach since 1997. According to the official page, he works with goaltenders at the NHL, AHL, and ECHL levels, and works to help scouting goaltenders for the team. Bedard has gotten to work with some great goaltenders in his time and is well-respected for helping netminders work within their own talents to get the job done.

The only other familiar face among coaches in the Hockey Ops department is Jeff Blashill, the Calder Cup-winning head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins who many (myself included) consider the heir apparent to the head coaching job of the Red Wings, whether that be 1 year from now or 3. Blashill is considered more of a players' coach who's done a wonderful job of implementing a prospect mill out of the AHL.

The Fresh Meat

One of the issues with being a well-respected coach and organization is that people always want to steal your secrets. Mike Babcock during his tenure has had as assistants the current coach of the San Jose Sharks, the Ottawa Senators, and the Carolina Hurricanes. Tom Renney, who was an assistant coach for him last year took a job with Hockey Canada.

To replace Renney as the assistant coach in charge of the power play, the Wings brought in Jim Hiller from the WHL. Hiller brought with him an analytics system which nobody has said much about yet (and probably won't). To go along with it, he also seems to have brought in a power play setup which is designed to more-fluidly use players around th front of the net and create shooting lanes.

On the defensive side, Tony Granato steps into the role vacated by Bill Peters. Granato formerly coached the Colorado Avalanche and was an assistant to Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh. The former NHLer and member of American hockey royalty is a well-liked coach who has so far overseen a very effective penalty kill.

Lesser-known than Hiller and Granato, the Red Wings also replaced their former video coach Keith McKittrick by bringing in the young Andrew Brewer. Babcock got to work with Brewer during the Olympic run for team Canada, as the head coach relied on Brewer to do video scouting and review for the eventual Gold Medal-winning squad. George Malik did a healthy amount of digging on Brewer back in July, which I highly recommend reading to familiarize yourself.

The On-Ice Coaches

Mike Babcock has described team captain Henrik Zetterberg as though he's another coach, who will often discuss ideas with him. Pavel Datsyuk also wears an A for the squad and is very much a lead-by-example type player. Not many people work harder on the ice than Pavel Datsyuk. The third A traditionally falls onto the shoulder of Niklas Kronwall, who is very savvy with the media and has been known to read the riot act in the room after bad starts.

Outside of that, the return of Daniel Alfredsson would wield another locker room leader, Stephen Weiss isn't particularly close to wearing a letter in Detroit, though he was the captain of the Florida Panthers before coming to Detroit. Like him or not, Dan Cleary is well-liked in the locker room and is considered one of their leaders. Justin Abdelkader has captain experience; Darren Helm would make a good associate captian; Johan Franzen will don the big vowel from time-to-time; and other players like Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Gustav Nyquist, Danny DeKeyser, and even Brendan Smith could well be considered for future core guys.

Hell, have I missed anybody? Perhaps future captain Anthony Mantha or president of space Xavier Ouellet? Either way, this is a well-coached team from the top of the organization down.