After seven seasons as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Jeff Blashill was officially given his walking papers by GM Steve Yzerman this weekend, along with assistant Doug Houda and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko.
Detroit finished this season on the outside looking in at the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth consecutive year; Blashill led the team to the postseason on only one occasion, his 1st season on the job in 2015-16.
And after Yzerman's media session yesterday afternoon in which he explained the decision as well as his plans moving forward, several Red Wings players have chimed in with their reaction to the news that they'll have a new coach next season.
“It’s a tough feeling,” said captain Dylan Larkin. “I listened to Steve’s comments. I really do believe and agree with what he said about Jeff and how he really kept this thing together. Like everyone knows he’s a great person. Coming to the rink, we knew what we were going to get. He was consistent with that. I thank him for his seven years.”
Gritty forward Tyler Bertuzzi not only played under Blashill with Detroit but also with their AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.
“I had him my whole career, playing pro,” he said. “We had a lot of success in Grand Rapids and in Detroit. Obviously, no playoffs in Detroit but we won some games, and we had some good moments. It’s a tough spot, just like guys getting traded or not making the team anymore, things move on.”
A bright spot in the second half of the season for Detroit was the play of center Michael Rasmussen, who stated that he's grateful for what he learned from Blashill.
“I have a lot of respect for Blash,” he said. “I don’t think he ever handed me anything. I think he expected me to be a hard worker, do it the right way, buy into the team, buy into the system, and I’m grateful to Blash for that. He taught me that it’s hard to be a good player, an everyday player. I’ll take that for the rest of my career for sure.”
For veteran defenseman Marc Staal, it was tough to hear, but he knows that it's part of the business that is the NHL.
“Obviously unfortunate,” Staal said. “I’ve enjoyed the last couple of years playing for him and Doug Houda. It’s just part of the business that coaches end up getting fired. Obviously, Steve thought it was time for a different voice.”
– – Quotes via MLive Link – –