Last month Yzerman indicated that he’d address the coaching situation with the franchise quite early-on in the offseason, which generally happens when a team opts for a coaching change. Recently the Arizona Coyotes chose to move on from Rick Tocchet and likewise the Blue Jackets with John Tortorella. Meaning, all signs are pointing to Blashill potentially returning for the 2021-22 season.
If the Detroit Red Wings were going to move on from Jeff Blashill, don’t you feel he’d already be unemployed?
Yzerman has had plenty of time to consider Blashill’s future behind the Red Wings bench when you think about it. He’s had the last two seasons to decide if he’d like to bring his coach back for a seventh season, and the ball is in Yzerman’s court. The Red Wings hold the keys to Blashill’s immediate future as the head coach has a team option built into his current contract.
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Do I feel that Blashill is the long-term answer? No. Would I like to see a coaching change? Yes, absolutely. Do I expect it to happen this offseason? If so, all signs are certainly not pointing in that direction yet.
Do I blame Blashill for everything that has been wrong with the Detroit Red Wings over the past six years? No, absolutely not. Former general manager Ken Holland deserves the majority of the blame, but Jeff still deserves a fair share.
If you rewind to the beginning of Blashill’s tenure in Detroit, he inherited a playoff team from Mike Backcock but one that was on a steep decline. If you recall, as Babcock flew the coop, he mentioned the Red Wings were in great shape with Blashill taking over. Easy for him to say as he’s cruising down Ontario’s boring highway 401 to Toronto to take over a rebuilding but youthful Toronto Maple Leafs squad. Things got a lot brighter for Babcock after the Leafs won the NHL lottery securing superstar forward Auston Matthews.
Under Blashill’s guidance, the Detroit Red Wings have just one playoff appearance, which came in his first year behind the bench. Since his 41-30-11 record in year one, the Red Wings have produced a 131-191-51 record over the next five seasons.
Despite playing atrocious hockey over the past two seasons, I did notice a significant difference in Blashill’s philosophy with Yzerman as his boss rather than Holland.
With Holland, it became apparent the Red Wings continued to resist a full-blown rebuild. Holland, as he described, attempted to rebuild on the fly. It didn’t work, and actually lengthened the duration of the process.
Blashill was constantly favoring the aging veteran’s Holland continued to spoon-feed his young coach while the skilled youthful players broke into the league playing less than ten minutes per night on the teams’ fourth line. Skilled players like Anthony Mantha, Evgeny Svechnikov, and so on shouldn’t break into the league playing alongside established NHL grinders. These skilled players need to play with skilled forwards as top-nine forward.
Ironically, that changed the second Yzerman took over as the teams’ GM. Suddenly, players like Filip Zadina, Tyler Bertuzzi, and eventually Michael Rasmussen found themselves playing as top-six forwards where their skill-set and overall potential suggest they should remain.
With Yzerman as the boss, the Detroit Red Wings have a clear vision, but will that include Jeff Blashill moving forward?
The Detroit Red Wings are clearly looking to develop their youthful players and hope for some lottery luck.
It’s an organization that has not made the playoffs in five straight seasons, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t expect to see Red Wings playoff hockey for the next two or three seasons.
So, Yzerman is certainly weighing his options.
Should he attempt to lure his old teammate Gerard Gallant to Detroit? Or possibly John Tortorella or someone else, and fear having to make a change three years from now if the organization hasn’t turned the corner yet?
The other option is to stick with Blashill, who will be considerably cheaper than the options mentioned, and ride this rebuild out for another year or two before striking a deal with the team’s next head coach Yzerman sees taking this team to the next level as the lineup starts its incline.
Despite having what appeared to be a plethora of bullheadedness during the Holland years, Blashill has made strides positively developing with the Zadinas, Rasmussens’ and Hroneks’ of the organization over the past two seasons. He didn’t shy away from making Anthony Mantha a healthy scratch due to his unwillingness to provide the team with a full effort each time on the ice.
With Yzerman not deciding part ways with Blashill yet suggests he is committed to another dreadful season with Jeff behind the bench focused on giving Joe Veleno, Mo Seider, and Lucas Raymond their fair share of ice time next season and re-evaluating the situation again at this time next season.
The 47-year old Blashill has a career coaching record of 172-221-62 in six seasons with the Red Wings.