The Detroit Red Wings have been on the hunt for assistant coaches for quite a while now, especially after wonderfully mustached right hand man Paul MacLean fled for the Ottawa Senators’ head post. Word circulated that the Red Wings would hire two now assistants for bench boss Mike Babcock (pictured) today; the Detroit Free Press reports that Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill will be one of them.
Blashill only spent one season as the head coach at Western Michigan, leading the team to its first NCAA tournament berth since 1996 after putting together a 19-13-10 record. Here is a little more coaching background on Blashill, according to a profile by Graham Couch of MLive.com.
Assistant coach at Ferris State (1998-2002)
Assistant coach at Miami of Ohio (2002-2008)
Head coach of USHL’s Indiana Ice (2008-2010)
Head coach of Western Michigan (2010-11)
Want some anecdotal discussion of what Blashill brings to the table? Here’s more from Couch’s profile.
“He’s a guy who demands the best out of you all the time and he gets it out of you,” said Michigan State freshman defenseman Torey Krug, who played for Blashill a year ago with the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice. “It might be a Monday morning practice after a long weekend and he’ll get in your face and tell you what is.
“One of the things I appreciated with coach Blashill is he’s going to make sure you’re there (mentally). As a player, you appreciate that, maybe not at the moment because he’s in your face screaming at you, but you appreciate it in the end.”
The Red Wings are expected to make Blashill and one other assistant coaching hire official later today. We’ll let you know who the other assistant ends up being (and confirm Blashill’s hire) once that happens.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.