The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/08/11 at 11:10 AM ET
Updated substantially at 11:22 AM, and for the record, the won’t talk about the news till 12 PM EDT, when DetroitRedWings.com will announce the signings: Oh, the wonders of modern technology. I’m sitting here with 20 of the Wings’ top prospects in front of me, and a technical glitch yielded no internet service and a mess of a post-fixing issue with Paul helping the “overnight report” shift back from garbled to readable after almost an hour of trying…
In any case, the web’s back up here and the Kalamazoo Gazette’s Graham Couch says that it’s official—one of the Red Wings’ new assistant coaches will be Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill:
Western Michigan University hockey coach Jeff Blashill has resigned, a university spokesperson confirmed this morning, the Broncos second-year hockey coach stepping down to accept an assistant coaching position with the Detroit Red Wings.
Blashill’s resignation is official as of 9 a.m. WMU’s hockey team was told earlier this morning.
A national search for a Blashill’s replacement will begin immediately.
Expect Mike Babcock to name another “younger” coach as his other assistant in short order, and the Free Press’s George Sipple noted....
Western Michigan announced today that head coach Jeff Blashill is leaving after one season to become an assistant coach with the Red Wings.
Wings general manager Ken Holland said the two assistant coaches they are hiring will be announced today at noon.
Western Michigan announced Blashill’s departure on its Web site.
“We wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to a new chapter in his professional career,” WMU director of athletics Kathy Beauregard said in a statement.
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan tried to read the tea leaves:
One of the new Red Wings assistant coaches has been identified.
Jeff Blashill, former Western Michigan coach, has left the Broncos to become an assistant on Mike Babcock’s staff.
“Today is a very emotional day for me,” said Blashill in a statement. “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream to coach in the NHL with the best organization in sports; the Detroit Red Wings.”
Blashill led the Broncos to the CCHA Tournament Finals and the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. The Broncos finished 19-10-3 and Blashill was named National Coach of the Year by several college hockey publications.
“My goal when I became head coach (at WMU) was to bring the program to national prominence and I am totally convinced that will happen very soon, regardless of my leaving,” Blashill said.
Wings general manager Ken Holland said there will be an official announcement at noon.
A day late and a dollar short, here’s the release from WMU:
Western Michigan head hockey coach Jeff Blashill has resigned his position with Western Michigan University on Friday morning, effective immediately, to take an assistant coaching position with the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL.
“We really want to thank coach Blashill for his dedicated and passionate leadership with our student-athletes and his coaching staff. We wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to a new chapter in his professional career,” said director of athletics Kathy Beauregard. “The success we experienced and his multiple National Coach of the Year honors speaks volumes to his talent as a coach and it also speaks volumes to the hockey program we have here at Western Michigan University. We are positioned perfectly for a high profile coaching search. There has never been a better time to become our next new Bronco hockey coach.”
“We believe we have one of the top ten programs in the country and we made a decision as an institution to make our head coaching position one of the ten highest paid in college hockey,” continued Beauregard. “The hockey community is well aware of our investment in our program and we know we’re going to attract the absolute best coaching candidates throughout North America. As a director of athletics you’re always building a bench of potential coaching candidates to prepare for days like this when a head coach departs. I am already receiving inquiries, have assembled a small advisory committee and a comprehensive national search will begin immediately.”
Beauregard added, “In the wake of the changing landscape of college hockey there has been much discussion among athletic directors on the potential realignment of conferences. Our strategic plan for hockey is to position Western Michigan in the premier hockey conference in the country that aligns us to compete for a National Championship. To make this a reality, President Dunn, Coach Blashill and I have been actively involved in these discussions. We have traveled across the country to share our ‘Why Western’ story with institutions in the West, East, with Notre Dame and obviously the CCHA. We are at the table in these discussions and will make a thoughtful, strategic plan for membership options that match, high academic and hockey national prominence.”
Blashill led the Broncos to the CCHA Tournament Finals and the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. He finished the season with a 19-13-10 record and was named National Coach of the Year by USCHO.com, Inside College Hockey, College Hockey News and was a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year. Blashill also helped freshmen Danny DeKeyser and Chase Balisy to the CCHA All-Rookie Team and both were named Freshmen All-Americans by Inside College Hockey.
“Today is a very emotional day for me,” said Blashill. “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream to coach in the NHL with the best organization in sports; the Detroit Red Wings. However, it is with extreme sadness that I step down as head coach of the Western Michigan Bronco hockey team. WMU is an extremely special place with special attributes. I am certain that with the commitment the university is making to hockey, that Bronco hockey will continue on its current path of becoming an elite program nationally. My goal when I became head coach was to bring the program to national prominence and I am totally convinced that will happen very soon, regardless of my leaving.”
“I want to thank the Board of Trustees and President John M. Dunn for their commitment to me and the hockey program. I want to thank Kathy Beauregard for giving me a great opportunity and her great leadership and passion. Kathy is a great administrator, boss, and person. WMU is very lucky to have her. Special thanks to associate athletic director Monty Porter for his guidance and friendship.”
“I would not have this opportunity without the incredible efforts of our coaching staff, support staff, and players. I was very lucky to hire two outstanding coaches, Pat Ferschweiler and Rob Facca. Both had an incredible impact on our success. Finally, a public thank you to our players, whose extraordinary commitment and effort, allowed us to have success that most thought was not possible. This great opportunity to coach for the Detroit Red Wings would not be possible without our players incredible efforts.”
Update #3 or something: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness confirms...
And Blashill spoke to the Kalamazoo Gazette’s Graham Couch about his new job:
Blashill, who has no professional coaching experience, said his role on the Red Wings’ staff has not yet been defined.
“I know I’m going to get together with Mike (Babcock) and whoever they name as the other assistant and we’ll discuss dividing up responsibilities,” Blashill said. “I think from Mike’s standpoint, he just wanted to get the right two guys in terms of guys he believes in and then discuss responsibilities.”
The former Ferris State goalie would not disclose his salary with the Red Wings, but was adamant in saying it was not a financial decision to leave WMU.
“(WMU athletics director) Kathy Beauregard and the board of trustees stepped up and gave me a great salary, so this was not something where I was leaving for more money at all,” said Blashill, whose guaranteed salary was bumped up to $275,000 in April, making him one of the top 10 highest paid coaches in college hockey. “It’s not something at all where I was looking to leave Western Michigan. It was just absolutely about an outstanding opportunity that I wanted to take.”
The Sault Ste. Marie native said he won’t leave for Detroit for “another month or so.”
“There’s a lot of personal issues to work through with selling the house and finding a place in Detroit,” he said. “The season doesn’t start for a while, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into it. I need to get over to Detroit soon enough to get my oldest boy in kindergarten.”
At all of
35 years old
, Blashill is younger than four of the Red Wings’ players
! [edit/update: Make that 37.]
The Detroit Sports Site’s Chris Burke also offers some tidbits about Blashill:
• Prior to being hired as Western’s head coach, Blashill spent two years as head coach of the USHL’s Indiana Ice and led that team to a Clark Cup title in 2009.
• Blashill played his college hockey at Ferris State (1994-98), where he was a goalie. Prior to that, he skated in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers.
• His longest coaching stint came as an assistant at Miami (Ohio) from 2002-08. He also spent three season (1999-02) as an assistant at Ferris State.
• Under Blashill’s leadership Western Michigan finished last season ranked No. 11 in the country in goals-against average at 2
4. That strong defensive effort helped offset a WMU offense that scored just 2.78 goals per game, which was in the lower half of all D-1 teams. The year before Blashill’s arrival, the Broncos gave up 2.89 goals per game and scored just 2.11.
• Blashill is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
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