Just a few weeks before the Detroit Red Wings announced Steve Yzerman as the new GM; former GM Ken Holland secured Jeff Blashill as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings for the next two seasons. Blashill being around for two more years might be both a blessing and a curse for the team.
It has been four years since Mike Babcock left the Detroit Red Wings for the land of first-round exits versus Boston, I mean Toronto. In the past four years, the Red Wings have gone through some serious changes, in the 2015-16 season, Blashill led the Red Wings to a first-round exit of their own against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Since then the Red Wings have been… not good, well they’re rebuilding so what else can be expected. The 2018-19 season resulted in a 32-40-10 record where the Red Wings were they played themselves out of the Jack Hughes sweepstakes.
Blashill has proved something, and that is that he can coach and develop young talent. With his time in Grand Rapids coaching the Griffins, he was able to work with some of the young talents and see their development through when he took over coaching the Red Wings. Blashill seems to have a knack for helping these younger guys develop, and that plays in well with the current state of the Red Wings.
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If you put the losing records aside, the team is trending in the right direction outside of the numbers. Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Andreas Athanasiou are starting to click together very well, and the younger players like Tyler Bertuzzi, Dennis Cholowski, and Filip Hronek also starting to gel and find their lane.
The bottom line is this, the end of the rebuild is inching closer, and Blashill is a “blessing” for being here to work the rest of the young talent through. Obviously with the draft coming there will be a new influx of youth, but Blashill can work in guys like Taro Hirose, Filip Zadina, Ryan Kuffner, Joe Veleno, and Jared McIsaac.
These guys can take the next two years and develop as the Red Wings push towards competing in the postseason again. So the fact that Blashill is a reliable coach when it comes to the development of younger players will drive his success during the last two years of his extension.
When it comes to the bad, the sad, and the hated… many fans are not a fan of Coach Blashill, and the numbers obviously aren’t pretty. No franchise wants to lose but the Red Wings were rebuilding, and it should be understood that there is going to be a time of struggle.
The thing about Blashill’s extension that is a little worrisome for me is the length of the contract. As much as I am okay with his player development skill set as said above, I think the Red Wings need to begin their focus on competing and winning again.
Take this sparingly as this does not mean we’re headed to the playoffs this year or even possibly next, it means that “rebuilding” is no longer the excuse for losing, the Red Wings need to focus on playing to win again, even if they finish .500 and do not make the playoffs this year, it would be an excellent year to snap out of the rebuild.
Two years of player development leaves the future bright, but does it shorten the window the Red Wings will have before talent starts to run thin again? That is the question that is left to be answered. Hopefully, Blashill will be able to continue his success of younger players flourishing while also turning the team around.
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Getting the Red Wings back into the playoffs within the next two years should ultimately be his goal, at that point GM Steve Yzerman can take another look and evaluate him, but for the time being this extension seems to be a blessing and a curse based on Blashill’s prior record.