Jeff Blashill takes pride in strides Red Wings made in 2021

The fate of Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill could be decided as early as today by Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman.

Blashill, who is in the final year of the two-year deal that he signed in 2019 prior to Yzerman’s arrival on the job. Blashill has served as Detroit’s bench boss for six seasons, but has only qualified for the playoffs one time.

However, this season marked several improvements over last year’s disastrous campaign. Their goals-for and goals-against figures both improved despite suffering several injuries to key players, and young players such as Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski made strides of progress.

For Blashill, he learned plenty from Mike Babcock, Detroit’s former bench-boss on whom’s staff Blashill served as an assistant during the 2011-12 season.

“Babs used to talk about steadying the rudder,” Blashill said. “That was something he used to say lots. Our team did a good job of being steady on the rudder. We lost our way in that one stretch where we were missing those guys, but really if you look back, we’re seven games under .500, somewhere in that range. That COVID stretch was a tough stretch for us, but other than that, I thought we did a good job of responding when things went bad.”

“I say this lots when I talk to people, I talk to businesses — like, it’s not about whether or not you get knocked down, you’re going to get knocked down. It’s if you continuously get back up. I thought our group continuously got back up. There’s a lot of good men in that room. On a night-to-night basis, we worked and competed to the Nth degree, and that’s something I’m proud of our group for.”

“They responded every time they faced setbacks,” Blashill continued about his players. “We had some tough, tough nights but every single time it seemed we responded, and that speaks to the character of this group.”

Blashill had previously served as head coach of the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins prior to his ascension to the Detroit job after Babcock’s departure in 2015, and one of his calling cards was the development of young talent. Veteran defenseman Danny DeKeyser took notice of the strides that the younger players on the roster have made under Blashill’s tenure:

“A lot of our younger players, especially, took strides this year,” DeKeyser said. “Ras, Zadina, Cholowski and Fil Hronek showed they’re meant to be here. That gives you a positive outlook on things.”

With the positives that Detroit earned during this shortened season, Blashill remains optimistic that the future will continue to improve.

“We’re a much, much improved team from a year ago, in our habits, in our structure, especially down the stretch here, with a number of young players being thrust into significant roles,” Blashill said. “The arc of this organization is starting to head in the right direction.”

– – Quotes via Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press Link – –