A coach with one of the hottest seats in the NHL heading into the off-season was officially locked up today as it was announced by the Detroit Red Wings that they had signed Jeff Blashill to a new extension. The terms of the contract are currently unknown, but the assumption by many is that it will be no more than two years for a coach that has spent most of his NHL career mid-rebuild. When asked for the details of Blashill’s deal at his press conference, GM Steve Yzerman refused to disclose that info stating it’s “his policy.”
This comes following an improved year for Blashill and the Red Wings, who were coming off a historically bad 2019-20. They had 48 points in 56 games, compared to just 39 in 71 games the season prior. They were better defensively by a large margin, allowing just over three goals per game. This was compared to the 3.76 goals-against per game from 2019-20. However, the massive struggles continued both on offense and special teams as the Red Wings finished 30th in both goals per game (2.27) and power play % (11.4%). They were also 26th in penalty kill % (77.6%), which, while an upgrade from last year’s team (74.3%), is still quite abysmal.
While Jeff Blashill certainly deserves some of the blame for the poor special teams, the man who was in charge of the power play is officially gone. At the same time they announce the re-signing of their head coach, the Red Wings also announced the departure of assistant coach Dan Bylsma. Bylsma was made assistant back in 2018 and was made in charge of both the power play and the forwards.
There will be plenty of questions about whether or not Jeff Blashill is the guy to continue to lead Detroit. With the rebuild still in full swing, many feel like they could keep him around as a stopgap until the right guy comes along. However, with names such as Igor Larionov and Gerard Gallant currently not hired by an NHL team, it seems a bit odd to extend him now rather than move on to one of those names if Steve Yzerman doesn’t see him as the coach of the future.
Red Wings fans have been believing in Yzerman since he took over as GM. It’ll be interesting to see if they believe in Jeff Blashill as much as he does.
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