Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill “itching” to get back into action

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The Detroit Red Wings 2019-20 season was shut down in early March thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the shut down, the team had the unfortunate distinction of owning the NHL’s worst record by a large margin.

Of course, this meant that they had no chance of participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Naturally, they’re anxious to get back at it.

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“We are absolutely itching to get back at it,” said Blashill. “We certainly want to get back. The NHL did an excellent job in their Return To Play and were in patient in making decisions when they had to the right information and I’m sure they will again this time.”

Of course, the ongoing pandemic situation in the world

“When you’re a team like us, that hasn’t done a thing since March in terms of practice or play. … We weren’t a part of the summer return to play; there are seven teams that weren’t part of that. We are absolutely itching to get back at it.

“But we’re also cognizant of the fact there’s a lot going on in the world and none of this is going to be easy. But we certainly want to get back. The NHL did an excellent job in their Return To Play and were in patient in making decisions when they had to the right information and I’m sure they will again this time.”

When the Red Wings do eventually hit the ice, their team will look much different than last season. Several new faces have been added to the roster, including forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov, defensemen Troy Stecher, Marc Staal and Jon Merrill, and goaltender Thomas Greiss. The team also parted ways with veteran Justin Abdelkader.

So what will training camp look like?

It’ll be a similar training camp. You start with making sure your work and competitive levels are where they need to be, so that’s the bottom-line foundation in order to be successful.

“Like any training camp, you have to make sure you’re on the same page as quick as possible,” Blashill said. “Get your systems in place as quick as possible. We’ll have a lot of new faces this year, so you want to make sure everyone is comfortable and play without thinking and guys aren’t thinking about where they are supposed to be standing, and just instinctly (know) because those habits have been built. That’s what training camp is about, setting the tone and foundation of how you’re going to play.

We don’t know the length of it (camp), we don’t know the number of days or exhibitions (games), which is fine. We’ll adapt on what opportunities we’re given and certainly plan for a different scenarios.”

Speaking of the new faces, Blashill is excited over the additions as well as the continued development of the team’s younger players.

“General manager) Steve (Yzerman) and his management staff did a real good job of helping us to be a better team this coming season, but also planning for the future. We’re pleased with the guys we signed, and I hope it makes us more competitive as a hockey team and more competitive within our group.

There’s still continued growth from a number of players and that’ll be a focus, and that’s not just young people, but everybody. We’ve had an opportunity over eight months to get better as individuals, some through trying circumstances where maybe you don’t have the same access for the perfect weight setup or ice setup, but I also think this time will show who has that great inner drive that the best athletes have, and I’m hoping a number of our guys have taken advantage of this time to make themselves better.”

As far as preparations for the upcoming year, Blashill and his staff have gone over multiple return to play scenarios in order to be best prepared for whenever the season does eventually begin.

“We’ve had coaches meetings a month ago when there was the potential of starting earlier, preparing for training camp and being fully prepared with the information we have,” he said. “We’ll continue to grind and make sure we’re as ready as possible. We know how we want to play, and make sure we’ve planned out multiple different scenarios in terms of what training camp and the regular season will look like.”

– – Quotes via Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News Link – –