General manager Ken Holland announced the hiring Tuesday at the Joe Louis Arena. The 41-year-old will be the second youngest coach in the National Hockey League, with New Jersey’s John Hynes the youngest.
Holland hired Blashill with a four year contract and had apparently already settled on the guy as the contingency plan in the event that former coach Mike Babcock went elsewhere. Well, Babcock headed to Toronto and that meant Blashill was coming in.
“I’m going on my instinct,” Holland said. “He’s a great young coach who is ready to coach in the NHL.”
Blashill was the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League for the past three seasons. He was coach of the year in 2014 and won the Calder Cup in 2013. Plus, he was an assistant in Detroit for the 2011-2012 season, working closely with Babcock to see how things got done.
“You don’t have success like that at the American Hockey League level unless you’re running a good program,” Holland said.
That good program should have plenty of firepower to implement in Detroit as Holland moves to new ground.
He knows he’s signing a sought-after coach, too. With Babcock going into the final year of his contract, five NHL clubs were looking to interview Blashill. Holland offered an extension on his contract or told him he could check out what other teams were offering. The extension included more money and the promise that Blashill would be the guy if Babcock left. The rest, as they say, as history.
After inking the extension, Blashill headed back to Grand Rapids and is now set to become the first America-born bench boss in the Red Wings’ storied history. He even coached at Western Michigan University in 2010-2011 and was born in the state.
“I don’t want to talk about what has been the case in the past; I have my own approach and some things will be different,” Blashill said. “I’ll be Jeff Blashill, and I think in that, there will be change.”