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Jeff Blashill responds to fans wanting to lose for better draft position

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Washington Capitals
Nov 18, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill talks to his team from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings are on the outside looking in at the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season after 25 consecutive years of qualifying.

A rather significant portion of the team fan base would prefer to see them stop putting up regular season victories in order to secure a better chance at landing a top draft pick this summer. But “tanking” isn’t the mentality that players and coaches have in professional sports.

Head coach Jeff Blashill was asked about the subject after the Red Wings earned their seventh win in the past 10 games on Sunday night over the Boston Bruins.

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“The first thought I have is that I’d be way more concerned if our young guys weren’t able to go head to head against these players that are the elite players in the league,” Blashill said. “The fact our young players are the ones driving this winning streak should temper some of those concerns because these are the guys who are going to make the impact sooner than anybody we draft and that’s the reality of it.”

The Red Wings have beaten playoff bound teams such as the San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, and Sunday night against the Bruins, and they’ve done it without several veteran players in the lineup. Young players such as Taro Hirose (who scored his first NHL goal Sunday night), Madison Bowey, and Jake Chelios (son of Chris) being a part of the winning as the regular season winds down will go a long way towards the future, and Blashill hopes fans will remember that instead of being worried about potentially losing out on a top draft pick.

“Number two, just from a general perspective – you’re talking about percentages, one percent, two percent, three percent – you’re not talking about automatics,” he continued. “I think the focus of our team has to be getting better as a group every day and I think the fact we’ve been building and building and these young guys are doing a great job should temper a lot of those concerns.”

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