Riley Sheahan believes his teammates’ familiarity with Jeff Blashill will help ease the transition for the rookie head coach in Detroit this season.
Sheahan is one of a number of players on the current Red Wings’ roster that played under Blashill with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
“You can see the job that he’s done in Grand Rapids and so many of us have played there and played with him, especially the Calder Cup team,” Sheahan told the team’s website. “He’s had so much success everywhere that he’s gone, so I think all of the guys are pretty happy.
“The guys that played with him before know how he reacts to different situations and knows what he expects. I think in that way some guys will be a little bit more confident, which always helps. It’s definitely a good thing.”
Blashill was named the 27th head coach in Wings’ history back in June. The 41-year-old led the Griffins to a 134-71-23 record in three seasons winning a Calder Cup in 2013.
Sheahan, who scored 13 goals and 36 points in 79 games in his first full season with the Wings last year, doesn’t expect much to change systems-wise with Blashill taking over from Mike Babcock.
“I actually thought they were really similar,” Sheahan said. “The system is pretty similar, there are a few tweaks here and there, but I think obviously, Babs leaving that’s tough to deal (with). He’s such a good coach, but Blash coming in, I think there’s a lot of positivity and a lot of happiness with the guys.”
Related: Under Pressure: Jeff Blashill
Here’s an understatement for you: Mike Babcock is a tough act to follow.
In the hearts and minds of Red Wings fans, Jeff Blashill may very well face an impossible task in trying to supplant the scowl of Babs. It cannot be easy to jump from the AHL to replacing one of the most respected bench bosses in recent history.
That said, for all the well-earned hero worship Babcock often inspires, there’s an argument that Detroit needed a breath of fresh air.
The Red Wings were as dominant as ever from 2006-07 to 2008-09, making three conference finals, two Stanley Cup Final rounds and winning one ring. They’ve been solid-yet-mostly-unspectacular since then, however:
- Just one division title (in 2010-11).
- Three first-round exits in their last six postseason berths, including two straight years of one-and-done. The Red Wings haven’t made it beyond the second round in that span, either.
- They struggled to make the playoffs more than ever in recent years.
This is likely a case of oversimplifying, yet some may look at this situation in one of two ways:
A) Babcock squeezed every standings point possible out of a fading team.
B) Conversely, the franchise was begging for a jolt of energy.
It’s worth noting that the Red Wings remain a quality possession squad, although their exact rankings vary based on which specific metrics you use. The bottom line is that there’s a solid chance that Blashill has a decent group to work with, even if this obviously isn’t the stupidly dominant group many long associated with the Red Wings brand.
When your team is currently on a record 24-season playoff streak, expectations are inevitable, and Blashill faces a tall task. For all we know, setting the bar so high might not be such a bad thing.
How would a front office that once pondered not naming a GM at all handle the addition of an executive who’s accustomed to wielding Zeus-like control?
When the shock of the Toronto Maple Leafs naming Lou Lamoriello as their new general manager wore off, people began wondering how, exactly, everything would work. It seems simple enough, though: Lamoriello will wield the typical stopping power of a GM, answering only to Brendan Shanahan, as TSN noted from his presser:
“That’s what I’m told,” Lamoriello said. “I report to Brendan. And the other people report to me.”
While Lamoriello noted that he’s “not going to be here for a lifetime,” the 72-year-old’s three-year contract is at least part of the argument against this being a transitional hire (with young assistant GM Kyle Dubas potentially taking the reins).
Instead, it sounds the future of that executive position is quite open-ended:
It’s truly been a drastic couple of years of changes with Shanahan in charge, as the team replaced Randy Carlyle with Mike Babcock, Dave Nonis with Lamoriello, seemed to do a 180 on analytics and even traded Phil Kessel.
As much as executives preach patience, it’s tough to shake the feeling that the drama’s just starting.
Here’s video of the press conference: