It might scare you even more to hear that there is a chance that #mike babcock might not return to the bench for the 2015-16 Detroit Red Wings.
Babcock may be the NHL’s top bench boss. He coached the 2013-14 Detroit Red Wings (A team that will be more affectionately remembered as the Red Griffins) to a 23rd straight playoff berth with a ragtag fleet of minor league standouts and slow-footed veterans.
He had inconsistent goaltending and a very apparent lack of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for a combined 74 regular season games.
Babcock has been a pillar of consistency through nine seasons, coaching the Wings at 65.4% winning clip, with a 415-198-91 mark to his name, as well as a Stanley Cup championship.
His ability to piece together a team capable of making the playoffs in the last two season despite a never-ending tantrum of key injuries makes Babs a highly sought after commodity if he choses to exercise a change of scenery.
When Babcock came to Detroit, he was a young brilliant minded coach, three years removed from coaching an incredible Cinderella story in the 2002-2003 Mighty Ducks.
It appears that with Blashill, the Wings may have hooked their second straight sharp-minded young coach, and the Wings appear to be grooming him to take over once Babcock leaves.
#jeff blashill came up as a goaltender between 1994-1998 for the Ferris State University Bulldogs, playing under one of college hockey’s best coaches in Bob Daniels.
It may have been playing under Daniels that sparked the passion, but Blashill saw a quick rise in his post-playing hockey career. He remained with Ferris as an assistant in 1999 until 2001.
In 2002, he took on an assistant coach position at Miami of Ohio. By 2008, Blashill had garnered enough attention to become GM and Head Coach of the Indiana Ice of the USHL, and won the Clark Cup in his first season. In 2010, he returned to the WCHA and helped bring Western Michigan Hockey back to prominence.
Blashill took the Broncos to the CCHA Title game and the NCAA tournament in 2010-11.
It took just one CCHA season as a head coach for his grooming as the heir apparent to Babcock to begin. Blashill spent the 2011-2012 season as Babcock’s assistant, which was enough to get him the job as the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Again, Blashill was an instant success, guiding the Griffins to their first ever Calder Cup Championship.
Whats lost in the process is the process. Gustav Nyquist came up during the 2012-13 playoffs, and showed off his wheels with some flashes of brilliance.
Nyquist came back up during the 2013-14 season and led the Wings in goals with 28. He sustained a level of play that nearly singlehandedly kept the Red Wings in the playoff race in the second half of the season. No other Wings player broke the 20 goal mark.
More Blashill pupils saw valuable time on the ice, including Riley Sheahan who added 24 points in 42 games, with 21 year-old internet sensation Tomas Jurco adding 15 points in limited second half action.
Blashill’s Griffins have never lost more than two consecutive games in regulation in two years. He was named AHL coach of the year in 2013-14.
The kids were alright, some were better than alright. Blashill’s two seasons in Grand Rapids have yielded wildly encouraging results.
Recently, Blashill signed a 3-year extension, which extends a full season beyond Babcock’s current contract.
As a Wings fan, you wish Blashill came around about five years from now. If Babcock chooses to stick around, Blashill will eventually be faced with the decision to wait it out or move on. Blashill is ready to take on an NHL head coaching job.
“I think the feeling is that he can use another year or two to continue developing as a coach and we’ll see what happens next summer,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Bill Roose of redwings.nhl.com.
Holland has expressed excitement over Blashill’s development, and the above shows they are looking at him to take the reins after Babcock.
Don’t rush Iron Mike out the door, but don’t call for management’s collective head’s if he leaves. For the first time since 2006 in Hockeytown, the next five years are more encouraging than the last five.