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Jeff Blashill Named AHL Coach Of The Year

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill has been named the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the American Hockey League’s outstanding coach for the 2013-14 season, as voted by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the 40-year-old Blashill helped the Griffins maintain prominence this season in defense of their 2013 Calder Cup title despite a large-scale roster overhaul. With a 46-22-2-4 record (98 pts.), Grand Rapids currently ranks second in the Western Conference and sits only two points from claiming a second straight Midwest Division title.

Despite turnover which saw only four of their top 12 scorers from a year ago and just three of their top 10 playoff producers play a majority of this season in Grand Rapids, the Griffins have posted three separate seven-game winning streaks and have held first place in the Midwest Division since Nov. 3, never losing more than two consecutive games in regulation at any point this season. Grand Rapids ranks seventh in the AHL in offense (3.15 goals per game) and second in defense (2.42).

Blashill’s influence has had a huge impact on the parent Detroit Red Wings as well, as he’s prepared 10 of his 2013-14 players for their NHL debuts, including nine as members of the Wings. All told, 18 members of Blashill’s 2013-14 squad were called up to play a total of 391 NHL games, and 13 players from his Calder Cup championship team logged time in Detroit this season, helping the club extend its playoff streak to 23 consecutive seasons. Calder Cup champions scored goals in 15 of Detroit’s 16 games prior to clinching a postseason berth.

In February, Blashill became the first Griffins head coach in 12 years to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic, guiding the AHL All-Stars to victories over Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in both the skills competition and All-Star Game. The event, which took place at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland, marked the first international contests in AHL All-Star history.

In 2012-13, his first season as a head coach at the pro level, Blashill led the Griffins to the Calder Cup, marking the first championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. Blashill was named by the Red Wings as the ninth head coach in Griffins history on June 25, 2012 after serving as an assistant coach for the parent club in 2011-12, when he helped the team to its 12th consecutive 100-point season and 21st consecutive postseason appearance.

Blashill is the second Griffins head coach to be named AHL Coach of the Year and the third to be named his league’s coach of the year, following the selections of Bruce Cassidy in 2001-02 and Guy Charron for the 1999-2000 International Hockey League season. Each prior winner moved on to the NHL the season after his honor, with Cassidy taking the reins of the Washington Capitals and Charron joining the Anaheim Ducks as an assistant.

The Louis A.R. Pieri Award, which was first presented in 1968, honors the late Mr. Pieri, a long-time contributor to the AHL as the owner and general manager of the Providence Reds and a 2009 inductee into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. Previous winners of the award include Frank Mathers (1969), Fred Shero (1970), Al MacNeil (1972, ’77), John Muckler (1975), Jacques Demers (1983), Larry Pleau (1987), Mike Milbury (1988), John Paddock (1988), Marc Crawford (1993), Barry Trotz (1994), Robbie Ftorek (1995, ’96), Peter Laviolette (1999), Claude Julien and Geoff Ward (2003), Claude Noel (2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2005), Kevin Dineen (2006), Mike Haviland (2007), Scott Gordon (2008), Scott Arniel (2009), Guy Boucher (2010), John Hynes (2011), Jon Cooper (2012) and Willie Desjardins (2013).

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WingedRider's avatar

Blashill has done an amazing job with the Wings prospects so they come to the NHL ready to play Babs system.  To keep winning with some of Wings waiver wire guys is really unbelievable.

Hopefully Toledo can get a solid foundation like the Griffins!!

Well deserved AHL Coach of the year!!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 04/15/14 at 01:09 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

Well deserved!

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/15/14 at 01:18 PM ET


I want him for the Jets!

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 04/15/14 at 01:27 PM ET


I know, I know. But if he was to go anywhere….But it looks like we’ll have Paul Maurice, who’s a pretty good coach. It remains to be seen what Edmonton is going to do with their coach.

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 04/15/14 at 01:51 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

I would hate to see the Wings organization lose Blashill…

Posted by w2j2 on 04/15/14 at 02:03 PM ET

perfection's avatar

yeah, his performance this year was totally under the radar. such a well deserved award.

this is a guy who won the cup last year, lost nearly ALL of the most integral parts of that cup team, at least up front, was dealt a parent team that got more devastated by injury than ever in its history, which means even more of his best players were lost to call-ups with very little consistency, had one of his best players traded at the deadline, and has had a bunch of waived NHL players coming in and out, I’m sure relatively disappointed, and yet he STILL won the division… I mean, I just can’t give Blash enough credit.

I agree that Wings need to do everything possible to keep him as he seems like Babs’ natural eventual successor. But then again, Babs seems more re-energized than ever. With a whole new core coming up and him not only surviving the transition but perhaps doing his best coaching job ever, he could last another 10 years. Blash is going to start getting offers very soon for NHL jobs. He’s just too good. I hope Shanny keeps his paws off. Would hate to face him in the division. Don’t know if Toronto would go for an AHL guy though? They may shoot for Trotz.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/15/14 at 02:12 PM ET


would hate to see the Wings organization lose Blashill

Completely agree, but if he gets an offer (and he will), I am not sure DRW can do anything about it. Same as it was with Yzerman. I am sure we did not want to lose him, but he got an offer from TB and he is their GM now.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/15/14 at 02:53 PM ET


I’m sure he wants to coach in the nhl, but they need to back up a brinks truck if that’s what it takes.

Posted by teldar on 04/15/14 at 03:26 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Good to see a fellow Sault-ite do well…especially when it has to do with the Wings organization

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 04/15/14 at 04:29 PM ET

voline's avatar

Will Shanahan come calling, I wonder?

Posted by voline on 04/15/14 at 08:43 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Yeah give him praise and congrats now because he’s going to have an NHL head coaching gig by next fall and be out of the or-gun-eye-zay-shun, with an enemy team.

He’ll just be another branch in the tree of DET coaches and execs filtering out into the rest of the NHL.

Worse yet, I bet Shanahan poaches one or two other guys from DET/GR.  Maybe he convinces Kris Draper to join him, or Kirk Maltby.  Maybe someone else poaches Ryan Martin for a GM job.

Or maybe Tom Renney gets another head coaching shot somewhere.

Get ready for more of these guys you love being in the org to go elsewhere.

Posted by Primis on 04/15/14 at 08:54 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Hopefully Toledo can get a solid foundation like the Griffins!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 04/15/14 at 02:09 PM ET

Vitucci stepping aside is a start.  Now they need to hire a coach that can recruit the good and right one-way ECHL contract players, because that’s the bulk of an ECHL roster.  Especially with CHI pulling out.

If Blashill leaves GR…  they could do worse than looking down the highway to Kalamazoo coach Nick Bootland, although he doesn’t coach puck possession.

Posted by Primis on 04/15/14 at 09:00 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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