Red Wings expected to name Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill as one of their assistants

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.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

Getty
Leave a comment

John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

Getty
Leave a comment

Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

Getty
Leave a comment

Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

Getty
Leave a comment

Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”