Red Wings extend coach Jeff Blashill’s contract

Detroit GM Yzerman keeps coach as rebuild continues

Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, right, and assistant coach Dan Bylsma watch against the Carolina Hurricanes in the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Jeff Blashill will remain the coach of the Detroit Red Wings, the team announced Tuesday.

Details on the contract extension have not been announced -- term, etc.

Blashill signed a two-year extension in 2019, just before new General Manager Steve Yzerman took over the job left by Ken Holland.

Now, two years later, Yzerman has decided to keep Blashill as the team’s head coach. Meanwhile, Yzerman announced assistant coach Dan Bylsma will pursue other NHL opportunities in 2021-22.

Blashill, 47, just completed his 10th season with the Red Wings, first joining the coaching staff in 2011 as an assistant coach to Mike Babcock. He then took the head coaching job with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins won the AHL championship in Blashill’s first year as head coach in 2012-13.

He has spent the past six seasons as Detroit’s head coach while the team works through a rebuild. The Red Wings made the playoffs in Blashill’s first season as head coach in 2015-16, bowing out in the first round. They have not returned since as they’ve worked through rebuilding a roster that aged out of the league.

Blashill is now responsible for helping Detroit develop its young talent and prospects, something Yzerman apparently trusts him to do.

The Red Wings finished their 56-game 2020-21 season with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on May 8. They ended the season tied for points (48) with the Blue Jackets as the teams “battled” for last place in the Central Division. 

Detroit’s 19 wins bested Columbus’ 18, slotting the Red Wings in at 7th out of eight teams in the division and leaving the Jackets in the final spot.

Read more: Dear Red Wings end-of-season notes: 2020-21 vs. 2019-20, looking ahead

Red Wings fans frustrated

As I discussed in a recent Dear Red Wings newsletter, the frustration fans have had with the Red Wings rebuild has, at times, made Blashill enemy No. 1 in Detroit. What Yzerman decided to do with the coach could open the flood gates for the critics who already are tired of the GM who has been back in Detroit for just two years. Just two years, folks, and one of them was railroaded by a pandemic.

From the newsletter (sign up above):

I repeat: Yzerman is just getting started. I talked about it in the rebuild timeline piece after the Anthony Mantha trade. There is no reason to be inpatient right now, and if Blashill is hired to stick around for a season or two more, so be it. It really doesn’t matter as long as the players and GM are happy with him.

This is not my opinion, this is just fact. If Yzerman thinks Blashill is the kind of coach to keep around and help bring in his prospects, how can we argue with it? Can he help bring in players like Lucas Raymond or Moritz Seider? Who else would Yzerman consider for this job?

I also wrote that I was starting to wonder if Blashill would want to go somewhere else. This has been his first NHL head coaching job. Is he tired of dealing with a roster in total rebuild/tryout mode? I think he has a case for taking a different job somewhere else, for his own sanity and self-worth. And I truly believe Blashill can get good results if he had a more stable, NHL-ready roster to work with.

Related: Dear Red Wings: Jack Eichel -- could Yzerman add him?