Detroit inks AHL coach Blashill to three-year extension

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One of the hottest NHL head coaching candidates is staying put — for now.

Jeff Blashill, the head coach of Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, has signed a three-year extension to remain with the organization, the Wings announced on Wednesday. Blashill, 40, has been with Detroit since the 2011-12 season, first spending a year behind the Red Wings bench as Mike Babcock’s assistant before taking the head coaching gig with the Griffins.

In Grand Rapids, Blashill has enjoyed tremendous success. The team won the Calder Cup last season and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals this season before losing to the Texas Stars. The loss represented the first playoff series loss the Griffins suffered during Blashill’s tenure as head coach.

This past season, a number of his players successfully made the jump to the NHL: Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Joakim Andersson, Luke Glendening and Brendan Smith, to name a few.

The three-year extension is interesting on a number of fronts. One, it essentially takes Blashill out of the running for vacant positions in Vancouver, Florida and Carolina — earlier this month, Detroit GM Ken Holland called Blashill “an NHL coach in the making” — and two, it could be seen as a succession plan should (or, whenever) Mike Babcock decides to step down as Detroit’s head coach.