The Vegas Golden Knights raised eyebrows yesterday when they decided to part ways with head coach Gerard Gallant, who is just a year and a half removed from guiding them to the Stanley Cup Finals.
He’s also the seventh coach that’s been fired in the NHL this season, along with Bill Peters of Calgary and Jim Montgomery of Dallas, who were fired for off-ice incidents; and John Hynes of the Devils, Peter Laviolette of the Predators, Mike Babcock of the Maple Leafs and Peter DeBoer of the San Jose Sharks
Meanwhile, Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill remains in place despite an NHL-worst record. So what does he think about all of these firings?
“To be honest with you, for the most part I just think about our situation here,” he answered. “I don’t think a whole bunch about it. Most of the guys who have been fired are people that I know…they’re good coaches. Gerard (Gallant) is a good coach, Pete (DeBoer) is a good coach; They’re guys I respect a lot. I just send out a note, I think it’s a bit crazy in the league right now, but that’s how it is right now.”
But what kind of note?
“In Gerard’s case, I respect him a lot, and I was pretty surprised (at his being fired by Vegas).”
Detroit’s most recent setback was an embarrassing 8-2 defeat to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night
“We talked yesterday,” he said. “We talked about a lot of things. You try to take the emotion out of it and you go through it and I think he agreed in the areas we were good and weren’t good. I’ve lost games closer than that where we got beat way worse.”
Do all of the recent coaching changes make him think about his own job security with the team? The subject apparently doesn’t surface much.
“We’ve talked at different times. I wouldn’t say we talk lots about that – I don’t bring it up and he doesn’t bring it up,” he continued. “I don’t think it has any real big big place. I don’t need to be told I’m doing good or, if he wants to tell me we’re not doing a good job, I think it would be in a specific area. If there’s something that’s bothering him, he’s definitely not afraid to say ‘Our team needs to be better at this’ or ‘I don’t like the way we’re doing this’ and that’s normal feedback – I think that’s totally fine.
“Other than that, I don’t bring up anything else. I ask his advice on how he thinks we’re doing, I want his opinions on how he thinks we’re playing, I want his opinions on players and I want to make sure he’s involved in that process. He has lots of experience as a player and manager, he’s seen lots of stuff. We have long conversations at times and short conversations at times. Every day is a little different.”
Though speculation continues to heat up that Blashill’s job security could be in danger, especially with a close friend of Yzerman in Gallant now available as a coaching free-agent, Detroit’s current head coach isn’t thinking about it.
In fact, he’s being driven by one main thing – helping his players get better.
“At the end of the day, he understands…we all understand where we’re at here. We have to make sure that we continue to not just hold the young guys accountable, but hold the group accountable, continue push them to be their very best. There’s nothing I take more satisfaction in than coaching than helping guys reach their very best. There’s lots of pitfalls when you have a bad season. I had a conversation with a couple players that are really good players for us right now to not be fooled that what they’re doing is good enough – there’s better in us….I’m going to continue to do everything we can from a coaching staff to make sure we make our players better, and there’s multiple ways to help your players get better.”
“I don’t need Steve to tell me that – that’s what’s most important to me personally anyways. I certainly love winning, but that drives me more than anything else. I’d hate to ever sit back ten years from now and think I didn’t do everything to try and help that player be the best they could be, so that’s what I’ll continue to do.”