Under Pressure: Jeff Blashill

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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.

Chelios to meet with the Red Wings next week

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With Jeff Blashill officially named the club’s 27th head coach in franchise history on Tuesday, the Detroit Red Wings are now working on filling out his staff.

According to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Blashill and GM Ken Holland will meet with Chris Chelios next week. Chelios, who has served as an advisor to hockey operations since retiring in 2010, has worked with Blashill in Grand Rapids.

The 53-year-old occasionally went on the ice during practice to work with the Griffins’ defensemen.

TSN’s Aaron Ward reported earlier in the week that Chelios was a likely candidate to join Blashill’s coaching staff.

Chelios spent parts of 10 seasons in Detroit as a player winning Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008.

The Red Wings are also in talks with Tony Granato about a possible extension after he declined the option on his contract for next season.

“We’re still in the process of getting the right guys and putting the staff together,” Blashill said on Tuesday. “Within a week we’d like to have it settled. Put the best staff together and get to work.”

Related: Holland, Cleary will meet next week to decide future in Detroit

Report: Red Wings will name Blashill as head coach next week

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It sounds like the two sides won’t need to play coy much longer: MLive.com’s Ansar Khan reports that the Detroit Red Wings will announce Jeff Blashill as their new head coach sometime next week.

Khan believes that Blashill is set to receive a three-year contract, since that’s also the length of Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s current deal.

Blashill’s currently the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate. They were just eliminated from their postseason run, so this opens the door for a pending announcement. Khan explains the timing of the pending (but not yet confirmed) roll-out to the press and fans:

An announcement ordinarily might have come later this week but Holland has been in Buffalo for the NHL’s Scouting Combine and will attend the league’s general managers meetings in Chicago early next week during the Stanley Cup finals.

Blashill has scheduled exit interviews for players in Grand Rapids on Monday. So the earliest an announcement on his hiring can come is on Tuesday.

At 41, Blashill would be the second-youngest coach in the NHL, right behind 40-year-old newly minted New Jersey Devils bench boss John Hynes. In a way, Blashill’s ascent follows the way the Red Wings often nurse prospects, as he’s had a great run in the AHL while patiently awaiting the big call-up.

There’s always the chance that this will be refuted, yet all signs point to this being the likely decision. We’ll find out for sure next week, though.

(Probably.)

Blashill not expecting a decision on Wings’ job this week

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With the Grand Rapids Griffins eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs following a 2-0 loss to the Utica Comets in Game 6 on Tuesday night attention has moved to the future of head coach Jeff Blashill.

Blashill is a strong candidate to fill the spot left by Mike Babcock in Detroit; however, don’t expect an announcement this week.

“There are still conversations to be had between Ken (Holland) and I,” said Blashill told MLive.com. “There is the NHL combine and (Holland) has some other business to tend to. So I don’t expect anything here in the near future.”

Holland is tied up with the competition committee meeting Thursday in New York and then the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo over the weekend.

“Nothing has been done,” Blashill said. “Right now, I don’t have any info at all. I can’t say any more than that.”

The 41-year-old has been the coach of the Griffins for three seasons leading the AHL club to a 134-71-23 record. Grand Rapids won the Calder Cup in 2013 – Blashill’s first season behind the bench

Overtime format highlights competition committee meeting agenda

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The topic of 3-on-3 overtime is one of a few topics on the agenda for Thursday’s competition committee meeting.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes we could see a 3-on-3 overtime format tested during the preseason, but not implemented for the 2015-16 regular season.

Also on the agenda for this week’s meeting is the coach’s challenge, the idea of the center in the defensive zone putting his stick down first during face-offs and the salary cap escalator.

Recommendations made at the competition committee meeting would have to be voted on by the NHL’s Board of Governors in late June prior to being implemented for the 2015-16 season.

The aforementioned topics were all initially discussed at the March general managers’ meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.

General managers Ken Holland, Don Maloney, David Poile along with Ed Snider will represent league (with Colin Campbell in a non-voting role) at the meeting in New York.

Mike Cammalleri, Cory Schneider, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik represent the NHLPA (with Mathieu Schneider in a non-voting role).