Detroit Red Wings: Head coach Jeff Blashill is out of lifelines

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Red Wings fans will only be forced to suffer through Jeff Blashill‘s awful coaching for another couple of months.

I can’t help but assume Detroit Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman is just riding out the 2021 COVID-19 challenged season with head coach Jeff Blashill behind the bench before eventually parting ways at the end of the regular season.

The Red Wings follow up what felt like a ‘rock-bottom’ 2019-20 season with an encore performance in 2020-21.  Usually, we look forward to the encore, but this is nothing but painful.  I’m not even sure that painful describes what this is, to be honest.  I love hockey, and I love the Red Wings, but I feel pain in my heart attempting to watch this product our beloved organization deploys out onto the ice each night.

After finishing last in basically every measurable statistic a year ago, things continue on that same trajectory; after going 17-49-5 a year ago, the Red Wings are off to a sputtering 3-9-2 start.

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One can’t help but feel bad for goaltender Thomas Greiss who is often left out to dry by the lackluster Red Wings lineup.  The free-agent netminder joined Detroit replacing Jimmy Howard, and while Greiss is clearly an upgrade to Howard, it often doesn’t show.

 Jeff Blashill’s time as the Detroit Red Wings head coach is coming to an end.

The Detroit Red Wings currently rank 29th of 31 with 27 total goals for on the season and 27th of 31, having allowed 46 goals against.  If you are looking to win small battles, here you go; last season Detroit finished last in both categories, so this is progress, right?

Blashill, similar to Mike Babcock, loves to play veteran two-way players with a diminishing offensive skill-set over younger up and coming players.  The more recent decision came when ‘Blashcock’ as he’s often referred to by many Red Wings’ fans, chose to bench Anthony Mantha.

Mantha got off to a slow start, that is no secret, but Blashill made Mantha a healthy scratch at the worst possible time.

The team finally got Filip Zadina and Robby Fabbri back from the COVID-19 list, and the struggling to score Red Wings would yet be able to field a respectable group of top-six forwards.  Nope. Mantha, who had scored in three of his previous four games and recorded four points over his last five games, became a healthy scratch.

Just as Mantha was heating up, Blashill oddly decided to scratch him.  Was this one of those, ‘once the troops return,’ we’re going to remember your slow start or lazy-play and you will pay for it?  I am all for trying to motivate a player, but at what cost?

If you’d prefer to watch someone like Frans Nielsen play a dozen minutes and wave his stick at a few players before exiting the ice, I can’t help you.

This isn’t the only questionable decision Blashill has made in the last few weeks.  The head coach continues to roll out the likes of Nielsen, Adam Erne, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula over younger players with far more scoring upside such as Michael Rasmussen, Taro Hirose, and even Givani Smith.  Why?  Seriously, why?  Detroit’s bottom-six forwards are due for an overhaul.

Get this; Smith was coming off of the best game of his young NHL career after recording a Gordie Howe hat trick played a whopping 10:07 time on ice and only garnered 13 total shifts the following game.  Jeff Blashill needs to be locked up for making these types of coaching decisions.

What might be next for the Detroit Red Wings?

If you go back a few years, many of us, myself included, continued to pound the table, hoping to see assistant coach Dan Bylsma promoted to be the next head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.  That clearly would have been a mistake looking at what he’s accomplished running the Red Wings’ forwards, primarily working the teams’ power-play.

Last season the Red Wings power-play operated at a 14.88% clip scoring 32 power-play goals on 215 opportunities.  Things haven’t changed much in 2021; things have actually gotten significantly worse despite adding a veteran goal-scorer like Bobby Ryan to the mix.

Detroit is only converting at a mere 9.3% rate, (the league average is 21%) having scored just four times on 43 chances.  It’s not only time to say goodbye to Jeff Blashill, Dan Bylsma, and the entire coaching staff needs to go.

Blashill owns a 156-203-54 career record as the Detroit Red Wings head coach, and these numbers will only worsen this season.

The Red Wings have only made one postseason appearance with Blashill behind the bench, and it came during his first season as head coach.  Detroit only managed to win one playoff game under Blashill, leaving his career postseason record at 1-4.

I would be utterly shocked if Yzerman chose to retain Blashill past this season, and someone that needs to be strongly considered for the job needs to be Gerard Gallant.

Next. 3 potential trade options in 2021. dark

Gallant has ties to Yzerman as they were linemates with the Red Wings, and knowing Gallant’s coaching success with both Florida and Las Vegas, he’d be a tremendous upgrade over Blashill.