The Malik Report
New Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill joined Hockey Central at Noon to talk about his new job and the roster he’ll be working with.
Update: Here's the audio of the interview sans video:
Updated 4x at 2 PM: Two more columns about Jeff Blashill popped up between the overnight report and this blogger's wake-up call, so:
1. MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Ken Holland's comments regarding Blashill's status as a "players' coach"...
Was Babcock's message getting stale? Was it time for a change? The Red Wings didn't think so, offering him a five-year contract worth $20 million. But when the Maple Leafs offered a mind-boggling $50 million for eight years, Babcock couldn't refuse.
Blashill shares some of the same philosophies as Babcock; they spoke regularly by phone the past three years. And while Blashill isn't as abrasive as the hard-driving Babcock, he's no pushover, for anyone who might think the Red Wings are going from a tough, demanding coach to a softie.
"I don't think he's a soft coach," general manager Ken Holland said. "One of the things I believe is very important in being a head coach is you got to make people accountable. They got to understand there's parameters and expectations and if they don't abide by those parameters and expectations on and off the ice -- commitment to gym, commitment to fitness, attention to detail, playing a 200-foot game, playing 45-second shifts, they got to buy the team game -- you're not going to have success."
2. And CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak spoke with Blashill's parents about their son's desire to coach at the highest level:
I apologize for the Jeff Blashill content overload, but the Detroit News's Bob "Wojo" Wojnowski wrote a fantastic article about Blashill's hiring as a "refurbishment" of the Red Wings franchise, and this missive deserves top billing:
"I actually think Jeff is going to be a great fit," said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings. "He has proven himself at many different levels. Talk to players who have been around him and he has an incredible way to motivate them, yet hold them accountable. … I don't know if you're ever turning the page. You're just continuing to develop and evolve, and I love the way our team is evolving."
Generally, ownership craves continuity and development, and the Ilitches like both. It's evident in the arena that will rise not far from Comerica Park. And coincidentally, the Wings just did what the Tigers did a year ago, when they replaced a longtime leader (Jim Leyland) with a first-time manager (Brad Ausmus).
The Wings are trying to find a way back to the Stanley Cup Finals without discarding the philosophies that produced 24 straight playoff appearances. Landing a coach who sounds like Babcock and extols the same traits of high-character, high-energy players is a smart way to try. Hey, if you're getting younger, get younger together.
"One thing that eases the transition is, a lot of the guys know my style," Blashill said. "I'll have my own approach, and I'm sure there will be change. But I'm sure there will be a lot of similarities to the way Babs coached."
Fifteen members of this year's Wings team played for the Griffins, and guys like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendening, Danny DeKeyser and Petr Mrazek will form the next generation's core. Even the older stars — Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall — are familiar with Blashill, who was an assistant one season under Babcock.
The Wings' packed farm system gives Holland viable trade pieces, and he might yet pull off a deal. That's more likely than a major signing in a weak free-agent market, but there's no obvious move pending.
Continued, and Wojo's article is worth your time...
Update: The Free Press's Jeff Seidel nails it, too:
In this evening's "notes" category, MLive's Ansar Khan reports that:
1. Yes, Chris Chelios is in the running for an assistant coach's position;
Holland said Tuesday that there is a chance he might re-sign forward Daniel Cleary.
"Dan Cleary, I need to talk to," Holland said. "Certainly two years ago when he made a decision to stay in Detroit and he's been offered three-year contracts in Winnipeg and Florida and Philadelphia, I know what he walked away from.
"So my management philosophy, part of it is being loyal and holding up my end of the bargain. So I need to sit down with Dan Cleary, so I don't have an answer on Dan Cleary. Could he possibly re-sign? He possibly could re-sign."
3. That Marek Zidlicky's fate will be determined during the Wings' pro scouting meetings next week;
Updated 2x at 12:08 AM on Wednesday: Of the five Jeff Blashill-related articles I've found this evening, three discuss the concept that the absence of a Babcockian scowl does not equate nothing less than a coach who will command respect, as noted by the Windsor Star's Bob Duff, in an article penned for Hockeybuzz...
“I don’t like to talk about what’s been done in the past,” Blashill said. “I’ll have my own approach and with my own approach will come change. I’m sure there are lots of similarities. I coach similar in a lot of ways to Babs has coached here and in a lot of the same approaches as to who we play. But I’m my own person and how I deal with players and how I deal with things on a daily basis. I’ll be Jeff Blashill and I think in that there will be change.”
After a decade of hearing the same voice in the room, sometimes change for the sake of change can be a good thing. That’s not to suggest that Babcock was a bad coach, but even the best of the best can see their voices grow stale after years of preaching the same message to the masses.
The Detroit News's John Niyo spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the team's assistant coaching situation after the Jeff Blashill introductory presser, and Holland did confirm that Chris Chelios is being considered as an assistant coaching candidate...
Neither Chelios nor Blashill were ready to talk about specifics Tuesday, but general manager Ken Holland confirmed there is mutual interest. And after spending the last few years working with Blashill in a part-time coaching capacity in Grand Rapids, it appears Chelios is ready for something more.
"Cheli had a role in Grand Rapids, and while it wasn't a full-time role, Blash respected the way he looked at the game," Holland said Tuesday after the Red Wings had made it official, announcing the 41-year-old Blashill as the 27th head coach in franchise history. "So it's something that Blash and I have talked about."
And Niyo updated Tony Granato's status as well:
The chief competition probably isn't in Toronto, joining fellow Babcock assistants Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer. It's in Buffalo, where Michigan native Dan Bylsma is the Sabres' new head coach. Granato, a former head coach in Colorado, spent five years as Bylsma's top assistant in Pittsburgh from 2009 until last spring when the Penguins' cleaned house. He also served as an assistant under Bylsma with the 2014 U.S. Olympic team.
"We're talking to Tony Granato, and we have interest in Tony if he wants to stay," Holland said. "Certainly we know Tony's got opportunities out there with the coaching carousel and the relationships he's got with some of the people that are now head coaches. There is no doubt we want one person that's got NHL head coaching experience or playing and assistant coaching experience, somebody that's got a different level of experience. But if Tony chooses to leave, we're gonna find some people that are going to make a great staff. I mean, we've talked about lots of people."
We should know who the Wings' assistant coaching staff consists of within a week, and the Griffins' staff will likely be determined by the end of the month.
Regarding the Griffins' coaches, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reported that half-a-dozen candidates (including Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde) are being discussed, and a former Griffins coach is apparently one of them:
Yesterday night, the Hockey News's Ken Campbell reported that Gordie Howe underwent a second round of stem cell therapy in Mexico, and this evening, the Free Press's Steve Schrader spoke with Murray Howe about his father's condition:
Gordie Howe enjoyed some of the afternoon sun sitting on the beach in San Diego on Tuesday, a day after a second round of stem cell therapy in Mexico.
"We just went for a little walk," son Murray Howe said by phone. "He's really enjoying it. I didn't think he'd ever be able to put his feet in the sand again."
But the Red Wings great, 87, has made a dramatic improvement from a serious stroke after starting the stem cell therapy in December. The second round was planned all along, Murray Howe said.
"That was a part of the protocol," he said. It may take awhile to assess the effect of this treatement.
The Free Press has learned Chelios is meeting with general manager Ken Holland and Blashill this week. The Red Wings just promoted Blashill to the head coaching position today, three weeks after Mike Babcock departed for Toronto.
TSN analyst and former Wing Aaron Ward sent out a tweet that said "expect Detroit Red Wings to include #HHOF Chris Chelios on coaching staff when they announce Jeff Blashill as their new Head Coach."
Blashill said he has a few names in mind for assistant coaches (he wouldn't name them) and should soon have them on board. "We're still in the process of getting the right guys and putting the staff together," he said. "Within a week, we'd like to have it settled."
Chelios has been a member of the Wings front office since retiring from a Hall of Fame career in 2010. His official title is Adviser to Hockey Operations, and he has worked closely with defense prospects in Grand Rapids - where Blashill just spent the past three years coaching the Griffins.
I've updated the "Blashill article" post 26 times with all sorts of commentary (in article, audio and video form) regarding Jeff Blashill's hiring as the Red Wings' head coach today, and now NHL.com's Dan Rosen offers two more perspectives--those of Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom:
"You talk about structure and accountability, I haven't been around too many guys who are better at it than Jeff," Chelios said. "One thing he says that hits home is, he knows what makes guys tick, he knows how to talk to guys. The fact that he won a Calder Cup with a lot of the guys who are with the [Red] Wings is going to help a lot, I think, with his transition."
Lidstrom, talking to NHL.com by phone from Sweden, said the time seems right for Blashill in Detroit.
"He's been doing a tremendous job down in Grand Rapids, and I'm sure [Babcock] had a lot to do with that too, learning from [Babcock] when he was up and speaking to him throughout the last three years in Grand Rapids," Lidstrom said. "[Babcock] having been in Detroit for a lot of years and having a lot of success, he probably feels it's the right step for him to look for another challenge, but I think it could be the same for the team too.
"A younger coach coming in, a coach with hunger and drive -- not to say [Babcock] didn't have that -- but a new voice in the locker room could help some of the veteran players get recharged again."
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