The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/25/12 at 05:54 PM ET
Update: I got suckered as the Semin account is fake: Well, then. If the Red Wings weren’t already in enough of a state of flux, Mike Babcock will need to find a new assistant coach as the team’s decided to send Jeff Blashill to the AHL to serve as the Grand Rapids Griffins’ coach. From the Griffins:
The Detroit Red Wings on Monday named Jeff Blashill (BLA-shill) as the new head coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins. He replaces Curt Fraser, who departed Grand Rapids one week ago as the winningest coach in franchise history to join the Dallas Stars as an assistant coach.
Blashill, 38, becomes the ninth head coach in Griffins history and moves to Grand Rapids after serving as an assistant coach for the parent Red Wings in 2011-12, when he helped the team to its 12th consecutive 100-point season and 21st consecutive postseason appearance. Prior to joining the organization, he served as the head coach of the CCHA’s Western Michigan Broncos in 2010-11, earning several national coach of the year honors.
“We’re very excited to name Jeff the next head coach of the Griffins,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “He’s a talented coach that has a proven track record of working well with young players. He did a tremendous job for us in Detroit last season and we look forward to having him groom and mentor our prospects in Grand Rapids.”
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be the head coach of the Griffins,” said Blashill. “I had a tremendous experience in Detroit last season and will lean on that as I make the transition behind the bench in Grand Rapids. I worked with most of our young players at training camp and in the preseason last year. We have some great talent in the organization. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Blashill will be introduced to the West Michigan media during a press conference at Van Andel Arena later this week.
Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Blashill has rapidly ascended hockey’s coaching ladder, joining his fourth team in four seasons. He began his head coaching career with the USHL’s Indiana Ice in 2008-09, capturing a franchise-record 39 wins and a Clark Cup championship. He compiled a 72-43-5 mark in two seasons as the Ice’s head coach and general manager before departing for Western Michigan in 2010.
While in Kalamazoo, Blashill led the Broncos to a 19-13-10 record, doubling the team’s win total from the previous season and leading the team to its best conference finish (4th) since 1995-96. Additionally, the Broncos played in the CCHA championship game for the first time since 1986 and earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. Blashill was named a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year by College Hockey News, Inside College Hockey and USCHO.com.
“Jeff is one of the brightest young coaches in hockey and we’re happy to welcome him to Grand Rapids,” said Dan DeVos, co-owner, president and CEO of the Griffins. “His deep Michigan roots, familiarity with West Michigan and intimate knowledge of both our players and the Red Wings organization make him a natural fit for the Griffins.”
Blashill began his coaching career by spending three seasons (1999-02) as an assistant at Ferris State University, his alma mater. He also spent six seasons (2002-08) with Miami University, helping the CCHA’s RedHawks qualify for the NCAA Tournament four times while recruiting three Hobey Baker Finalists, four CCHA All-Rookie Team members, 11 first or second team All-CCHA players and six All-Americans.
Blashill has also been a member of Team USA’s coaching staff three times – at the 2009 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2006 U-18 Junior World Cup.
The former goaltender spent four seasons between the pipes for Ferris State, earning the Bulldogs’ Rookie of the Year award in 1994-95 and a spot on the CCHA’s All-Academic Team for 1996-97. He also garnered the Ferris State University President’s Award for three straight years for having the highest grade point average on the Bulldogs.
Blashill and his wife, Erica, have three children, Teddy, Josie and Owen.
As noted by the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, the Wings had, in theory, snagged a “new voice” a year ago…
Despite having plenty of higher profile candidates to go with as assistants last season the Wings chose to pick from the minor league and college ranks to work behind the bench in naming Blashill (Western Michigan University) and Bill Peters (Rockford IceHogs). Both signed three-year deals.
“I’ve been in Detroit six years and after a while you start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher — womp, womp, womp!” Babcock said last season. “I’m looking for new ideas, new thoughts. We’re trying to evolve our game. The way to do that is change. (Players) have heard the same voice for a long time.”
Babcock’s former assistants Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators) and Brad McCrimmon (Russia’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl) each landed head coaching jobs. McCrimmon however lost his life in a plane crash in Russia last offseason. McLean was with the Wings for five seasons, while McCrimmon spent three seasons in Detroit.
“He’s a young man with a bright future in coaching, a polished presenter,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said last year when asked about his new assistant coach. “He’ll have an immediate impact on the team.”
Blashill said at the time he was surprised when Babcock left him a message out of the blue since he had no previous relationship with anybody on the Red Wings.
“As much as I loved my position at Western (Michigan), this was too good an opportunity not to take,” Blashill said. “It was my goal for a number of years to go to the NHL. Ultimately, I would like to be an NHL head coach.”
But now the Wings will move in a new direction, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
Red Wings GM tells Free Press Jeff Blashill new head coach of Grand Rapids, was assistant in DET
Red Wings going through names as they search for new assistant to Mike Babcock. Bill Peters still in place. Blashill was in charge of PP
What will the Wings do? As MLive’s Ansar Khan suggests, they’ll look for a more seasoned voice:
His departure leaves the Red Wings needing another assistant coach to join Bill Peters. In all likelihood, they will seek someone with NHL coaching experience.
Update: Here’s the Red Wings’ press release:
JEFF BLASHILL NAMED HEAD COACH OF THE GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS
... Detroit ’s Assistant Coach Leaves Post to Become Griffins’ Bench Boss …
Detroit, MI… Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland today announced that Red Wings assistant coach Jeff Blashill has left his current position with the team in order to take over duties as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit ’s American Hockey League affiliate. Blashill becomes the ninth head coach in Grand Rapids ’ history. He replaces Curt Fraser, who left the organization earlier this week to accept an assistant coaching position with the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. Fraser guided Grand Rapids to a 146-130-18-22 record over his four seasons with the team. He ranks first in franchise history in both regular season games coached (316) and wins (146).
“We’re very excited to name Jeff the next head coach of the Griffins,” said Holland . “He’s a talented coach that has a proven track record of working well with young players. He did a tremendous job for us in Detroit last season and we look forward to having him groom and mentor our prospects in Grand Rapids . We would also like to thank Curt Fraser for his four years of service behind the Griffins’ bench. He did an outstanding job for us. We wish Curt and his family nothing but the best in Dallas .”
Blashill, 38, joined the Red Wings’ organization as an assistant coach on July 8, 2011. The Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. , native helped guide the Red Wings to a 48-28-6 regular season record and a fifth-place finish in the Western Conference standings in 2011-12. Detroit secured its 12th consecutive 100-point season and made its 21st consecutive postseason appearance last year.
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be the head coach of the Griffins,” said Blashill. “I had a tremendous experience in Detroit last season and will lean on that experience as I make the transition behind the bench in Grand Rapids . I worked with most of our young players at training camp and in the preseason last year. We have some great talent in the organization. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Prior to joining the Red Wings, Blashill spent one season behind the bench at Western Michigan University , where he led the Broncos to a 19-13-10 regular season record and their first berth in the CCHA Championship Game since 1986. Western Michigan posted an 8-20-8 record the year prior to his arrival. For his efforts, Blashill was a finalist for the CCHA Coach of the Year Award and was named National Coach of the Year by College Hockey News, USCHO.com and Inside College Hockey. Blashill previously served as Head Coach and General Manager of the USHL’s Indiana Ice, with whom he captured a Clark Cup title in 2009. Prior to his two-year stint with the Ice, Blashill worked as an Assistant Coach at Miami University (Ohio) from 2002-08 and at Ferris State, his alma mater, from 1998-2002. The former goaltender and father of three has been a member of Team USA ’s coaching staff three times – at the 2009 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships and the 2006 U-18 Junior World Cup.
Update #2: the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner has already spoken to Blashill about his move:
“It’s a terrific opportunity,” said Blashill, a Ferris State grad who comes to the Griffins after one season as Mike Babcock’s assistant with the Red Wings. “An opportunity to be a coach in the American League is something I was certainly striving for, and to stay with one of the best organizations, if not the best organization in the Detroit Red Wings, just made it a terrific fit.”
Blashill said he was contacted about the Griffins position last week by Ken Holland, Red Wings general manager.
“It’s something I was definitely interested in, but I immediately called Mike because I wanted to make sure he would give me his full blessing on this since I was with him just the one year,” Blashill said. “He was completely on board.”
The Griffins plan to formally introduce Blashill later this week, probably Wednesday or Thursday.He had no timetable for hiring an assistant, though he said “first on the list” will be to contact Jim Paek, the Griffins assistant coach under the past three head coaches.
The Red Wings wanted to have someone in place no later than July 6 when the Griffins’ annual prospect development camp begins in Traverse City.
Blashill said he will begin to contact players today in advance of the camp.
Update #2.5: Take this for what you will, from Alexander Semin’s Twitter account:
Remember Detroit press: if I’m Datsyuk’s teammate in 1 week, plz use headline “Alex Seminem, aka Slim Sashady, signs with #RedWings.” K? Thx
Update #3: From the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
Regarding Damien Brunner, he cannot sign until Sunday, but he has told #RedWings he intends to sign with him, still needs to be cleared
Good situation for Blashill & #RedWings Wings. Wings get fresh eyes on power play (problem last season), Blashill gets to run own bench
Update #3.5: From DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
“It’s a great opportunity to coach at the American Hockey League level where I wanted to eventually go to be a head coach,” Blashill said. “Of the franchises in the American Hockey League, Grand Rapids was No. 1 for a number of reasons, including from a professional standpoint to remain in the Red Wings’ organization.”
Blashill becomes the ninth head coach in Griffins’ history, replacing Curt Fraser, accepted a position on the Dallas Stars’ coaching staff last week. He ranks first in franchise history in both regular-season games coached (316) and wins (146).
A collegiate goalie at Ferris State University, Blashill remained with the Bulldogs following his senior season, latching onto an assistant position in 1998, and after three seasons at Ferris and another six at Miami University, he took a head coaching gig with the Indiana Ice in 2008, and led them to the USHL championship in his first season. Two years ago, Blashill returned to the CCHA as head coach at Western Michigan University, and earned national coach of the year honors from two college hockey publications for rejuvenating the Broncos, which had a losing record a season earlier. Under, Blashill, the Broncos improved to 19-13-10, finished fourth in the CCHA regular-season, but managed to reach the CCHA tournament championship game before falling to Miami.
Blashill, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is quite familiar with Grand Rapids, having lived in suburban Comstock Park during his coaching days at Ferris, which was about a 50-minute commute each way. But teaching is something that Blashill lives to do.
“My background has been through college hockey and then junior hockey and back to college hockey,” he said. “Watching guys get better over a course of a season, being able to really help them learn better habits, develop more skill and prepare them to play at a higher level is something that I have always enjoyed. I’ve always enjoyed watching my former players go on to have great success, like Alec Martinez, who I coached at Miami University, raise the Stanley Cup with L.A. this year, and I was extremely excited for him. It’s that mentorship that I really enjoy and something that I look forward to in the American Hockey League.”
Because Blashill was able to relate with the Wings’ younger players, like Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak, Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith, it was certainly something that general manager Ken Holland considered and thought could help in a smooth transition to Grand Rapids.
“We’re very excited to name Jeff the next head coach of the Griffins,” Holland said. “He’s a talented coach that has a proven track record of working well with young players. He did a tremendous job for us in Detroit last season and we look forward to having him grooming and mentoring our prospects in Grand Rapids.”
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