Detroit Red Wings News: What Does Jeff Blashill Bring To Detroit?

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With Mike Babcock now gone, the Detroit Red Wings are expected to officially name Jeff Blashill as their new head coach sometime in the next few days. So what does Jeff Blashill bring to the Red Wings, one of the most storied and respected franchises in professional hockey?

If you don’t follow the Detroit Red Wings or their AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins, chances are you’ve never heard of Jeff Blashill. Anonymity is nothing new to Blashill as he was previously an unknown name when the Red Wings and Mike Babcock brought him in as an assistant coach in 2011.

After only spending one season as an assistant in Detroit, Blashill was given control behind the bench in Grand Rapids, where he coached the Griffins to the Calder Cup championship in his first year. In 2013-14 Jeff was named AHL coach of the year, and he became the first coach in Grand Rapids’ history to have three seasons of 40 wins and 90 points.

Blashill’s coaching story goes back further than his time spent in Grand Rapids, but still maintains strong Michigan roots along the way. Blashill is a Michigan native who also attended and played Division I hockey at Ferris State for four years between 1994-98. After graduating from Ferris State, Jeff was asked to return as an assistant coach where he stayed for four years.

After Ferris, Blashill gained some more experience as an assistant coach at Miami University. Jeff finally got his chance at head coaching in 2008 when he was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice of the USHL. In his first season with the Ice, Blashill coached his team to winning the Clark Cup for the USHL Championship.

In 2010, Jeff left the USHL to take a head coaching job at Western Michigan (where he coached Danny DeKeyser) which would solidify his coaching career in his home state. Again, in his first-season as a head coach Blashill found success as he coached the Broncos to a top-four finish in the CCHA. After only one season at WMU, Blashill was named USCHO Coach of the Year, Inside College Hockey Coach of the Year, and College Hockey News Coach of the Year.

Which us brings full circle to Mike Babcock taking notice of Jeff Blashill and inviting him to be an assistant in Detroit in 2011. So what does Blash have to offer as Babcock’s replacement in 2015?

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  • The answer, a lot.

    First off, you can’t help but notice the success that Blashill has had in all of his transitions during his 17 year coaching career. Twice in his career he has coached a team to both a championship series and title in his first season as head coach. Obviously, there is a huge a difference between winning a championship in the USHL and AHL as opposed to winning the Stanley Cup, but Blashill has the coaching experience and the players in Detroit to make a possible splash next post-season.

    Speaking of players, that brings me to my next point. Blashill has already coached and mentored 15 current players on the Detroit roster who played for the Red Wings last season. Many of these players were on the Griffins when they won the Calder Cup in 2012-13 and are proving to be the future of the team. Having an already established relationship and knowledge of his team can only help Blashill’s transition.

    It’s not only his knowledge of current players that will aid Jeff in his new role as head coach of the Red Wings, but it is also his knowledge of Detroit’s prospects that could prove even more important. With so many talented prospects ready to break into the NHL, having a coach in Blashill’s position will also help the Wings stay young and competitive.

    Several of the Red Wings players recently praised Blashill in an interview with Bob Duff of The Windsor Star.

    “Blash has been huge,” Detroit forward Landon Ferraro said. “He’s taken me from a guy that had the tools to get here and get a chance to someone that’s actually got here.”

    “Players feel like they can talk to him,” Detroit left-winger Tomas Tatar said. “He’s somebody who they can trust and feel good about.”

    Putting aside past success and current relationships, one of the biggest things Blashill brings with him is all of the adjectives his peers have used to describe him as both a coach and a human being. “Hard-working”, “loyal” and “leader” are some of the most common words that I’ve seen used to describe Jeff Blashill.

    So with Mike Babcock’s blessing and Ken Holland‘s organizational structure, Jeff Blashill is ready to take the next step in his career by becoming the 27th head coach in Detroit Red Wings history as well as the second-youngest coach in the NHL next season. I wish him the best and look forward to what the future holds.

    Next: Is Dylan Larkin Detroit's New Top Prospect?

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