This post is part of Detroit Red Wings day at PHT…
Let’s be honest: It’s probably not easy to replace a coach of Mike Babcock’s repute.
More than a year ago, Babcock went to the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs and is being paid a lot of money — an estimated $50 million over eight years — to coach in that market. Meanwhile, back in Detroit and with Babcock out of the picture, the Red Wings turned to Jeff Blashill as their new bench boss.
True, Blashill had spent time as a head coach in the USHL, college ranks and with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. But he had no experience as an NHL head coach prior to the 2015-16 season and just one season as an NHL assistant when he was part of Babcock’s staff in 2011-12.
After a 41-30-11 regular season record and another playoff appearance, the 25th straight in Detroit, the Red Wings were bounced in the first round. One of the priorities for general manager Ken Holland this offseason was to insulate Blashill by bringing in more experienced assistants.
The Red Wings hired John Torchetti, previously the interim head coach in Minnesota, and long-time Boston assistant Doug Houda. Those moves were part of a larger coaching shake-up within the organization, as Tony Granato left for a head coaching job at Wisconsin, goalie coach Jim Bedard was not brought back and assistant Pat Ferschweiler, who ran the team’s 13th-ranked power play last season, was reassigned.
Blashill told MLive.com that “player development” will be a large part of Ferschweiler’s role going forward.
“I think it’ll be a real benefit,” Blashill told the Detroit Free Press of the additions to the Red Wings staff. “Lots of years behind NHL benches. I’ve only had two years on an NHL bench. That’s a scenario where I can learn from their past experiences.”
It’s all about experience.
Two years ago, Blashill was touted by Holland as an “NHL coach in the making.” A month later, he was given a three-year contract extension to coach the Griffins, so clearly they thought highly of Blashill by keeping him as opposed to potentially losing him to another NHL club. A year later, he was tapped on to replace Mike Babcock.
In this case, patience may be required, too. That may be easier said than done from a fan’s perspective because as impressive as Detroit’s current run of consecutive playoff appearances is, they haven’t made it out of the first round in their last three tries.
“I think he’s a tremendous coach and I think he’s going to be in the League a long time. He’s had a lot of success at every level he’s been at except the NHL,” Holland told NHL.com.
“He did guide us to a playoff spot in a League when it’s hard to qualify for the playoffs, but I also think as you looked at our team last year, there were lots of decisions to be made and I think the experiences of last year are going to be important for Jeff.”
If the Red Wings place such a great deal of value on Blashill gaining experience, and leaning on the experience of veteran coaches beside him, it would seem then that they are willing to invest a substantial amount of time in him as he continues to grow and establish himself as an NHL coach.
But with such experienced assistant coaches having joined his staff this offseason, it makes you wonder about what could happen if the Red Wings struggle significantly or fail to make the playoffs.
“I think there’s always pressure in this job and there always will be and I welcomed that when I took the job,” Blashill told MLive.com this summer.
“But really, I don’t spend lots of time worrying about what could happen bad. I spend all my time worrying about how we’re going to do things to make sure we win.”
St. Louis Blues veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has been named to Canada’s 23-man roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
He will replace Chicago Blackhawks blue liner Duncan Keith, who is rehabbing a right knee injury.
“As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in next month’s World Cup of Hockey,” Blackhawks team physician, Dr. Michael Terry, said in a statement.
“We believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury.”
Bouwmeester, a left-handed shot just as Keith is, which maintains the left-right philosophy for defensive pairings, joins his Blues teammate Alex Pietrangelo on the Canadian roster.
The two not only play together in St. Louis, but they were matched together on the blue line for Canada when it won gold at the 2014 Olympics.
The decision is, well, an interesting one and open to plenty of debate, as the Team Canada brass opted to take Bouwmeester over other Canadian blue liners — right-handed shots P.K. Subban and Kris Letang among the names — with far more offensive production from the back end.
Patrick Bordeleau is on his way to play for the Devils — of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom.
The Cardiff Devils announced that they have agreed to terms on a contract with Bordeleau, who played 129 games in the National Hockey League with the Colorado Avalanche.
In his time with the Avs, from 2013 to 2015, the 30-year-old forward — who stands an imposing six-foot-six-inches tall and 225 pounds — scored eight goals and 16 points with 185 penalty minutes.
As you can see from the clip below, he was known more for fisticuffs than finesse.
That has the club in Cardiff all kinds of excited about this signing.
Aside from his reputation as an enforcer, the level of skill and ability of Patrick Bordeleau arose the attention of Devils player coach Andrew Lord who is delighted to add him to the roster.
“Patrick Bordeleau brings an awesome dynamic of size, energy and physical play. He skates well and will add a great presence to our forward unit while also playing quality minutes. He played multiple seasons in the NHL and his experience and character will be huge for our group.”
Last month, another former NHL tough guy, Jay Rosehill, signed in the EIHL with the Braehead Clan, which continued a trend that has seen a number of pugilists continue their careers in the UK.
Shortly after the Blues’ PR department unveiled a “major announcement” scheduled for Thursday, the Post-Dispatch broke news that Alex Pietrangelo will become the team’s new captain.
It’s a big honor for the talented defenseman, who joins the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, Scott Stevens, Brian Sutter, Bernie Federko and Al Arbour as those that have captained the Blues.
Pietrangelo, 26, was taken fourth overall by St. Louis in 2008 and has spent his entire professional career within the organization.
A staple of the Team Canada blueline and a two-time NHL 2nd team All-Star, Pietrangelo inherits the captaincy from David Backes, who wore the “C” for five years before signing with Boston in free agency.
Pietrangelo had previously served as one of Backes’ alternates — first earning his “A” in 2013 — along with forward Alex Steen, who’s served as an alternate since 2011. It’s logical to assume Steen will retain his role in the leadership group, but it will be interesting to see who gets the other alternate captaincy.