The Steve Yzerman era in Hockeytown hasn’t gotten off to the greatest start, though he warned that success on the ice wasn’t going to come right away.
And was he right. The Detroit Red Wings are currently stuck in their longest regulation losing streak since Yzerman was barely five years into his NHL career, having dropped seven consecutive contests. During that stretch, the team has looked lifeless and been outscored by a near 3-1 margin.
As the losses pile up, speculation will naturally begin to grow around the job security of head coach Jeff Blashill. The head coach since the departure of Mike Babcock in 2015, Blashill inherited a team in rebuild mode, so it wouldn’t be entirely fair to place the blame of their struggles on him alone.
But NHL teams have been known to make changes when they haven’t been featured in the win column in several weeks, regardless of the overall status of the on-ice product. Yzerman showed the hockey world during his tenure as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning that he isn’t afraid of making shrewd and bold moves, and should he decide to pull the trigger on a coaching change for the Red Wings, there are a handful of candidates that he’d potentially consider.
1. Dan Bylsma
The first and most obvious choice would be the current assistant coach under Blashill, former Pittsburgh Penguins/Buffalo Sabres bench boss Dan Bylsma. A Stanley Cup winner in 2009 against the Red Wings with Pittsburgh, Bylsma boasts a 401-252-117 record and was the 2011 recipient of the Jack Adams award, given annually to the top NHL bench boss.
2. Guy Boucher
A Guy Boucher hire would be a logical choice, given the history between him and Yzerman. He was hired as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning by Yzerman in 2010, and subsequently led the Lightning to game seven of the 2011 Eastern Conference Final. He later repeated that feat with the Ottawa Senators in 2017. He also led the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs to a North Division Championship in 2009-10.
3. Sheldon Keefe
Sheldon Keefe is widely regarded in NHL circles to be a prime candidate to land an NHL coaching gig sooner than later. He’s currently the head coach of the Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the Maple Leafs, and led them to a championship in 2018. He also spent several successful years coaching in the Central Canada Hockey League, amassing a record of 285–95–12 and setting team records for most career wins and highest career win percentage.