Jeff Blashill, head coach of Detroit’s AHL affiliate and rumored to be Mike Babcock’s heir apparent, said he’s had zero talks with GM Ken Holland about going behind the Wings’ bench.
“We have not had one conversation about it since Ken and I sat down last spring to talk about doing a new contract and me being the head coach of the Griffins,” Blashill said, per MLive. “That’s the only conversation we’ve had.”
Babcock, in the final year of his contract with Detroit, is believed to be highly sought-after by a number of clubs. Toronto, Philadelphia, Buffalo and San Jose all currently have coaching vacancies.
Detroit inked Blashill to a three-year extension last June, which many saw as a precursor to him eventually taking the head gig at the NHL level. Blashill, 41, has been with Detroit since the 2011-12 season, first spending a year behind the Red Wings bench as Babcock’s assistant before taking the head coaching gig with the Griffins.
In Grand Rapids, he’s enjoyed tremendous success. The Griffins won the Calder Cup two years ago and advanced to the Western Conference semis last year; this season, they’ll open the playoffs as the West’s No. 2 seed.
Blashill is thought of very highly within the Detroit organization. He’s overseen the development and promotion of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Joakim Andersson, Luke Glendening and Brendan Smith and, shortly prior to signing Blashill to the aforementioned extension, Holland called him “an NHL coach in the making.”
But it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to make the leap just yet.
“As in the past, I honestly don’t even think about it,” Blashill explained. “I have never been in a job and thought about what’s next. I’ve always thought about right now, and that’s a series with Toronto [Marlies, Grand Rapids’ Round 1 opponent], and that’s my sole focus.
“I signed a contract last year because I really enjoy my job and I really enjoy working for the Red Wings.”