After seven seasons as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Jeff Blashill was officially given his walking papers by GM Steve Yzerman, 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.
Speculation immediately began to build as to who Yzerman would hire in what would arguably be his biggest mark on the franchise (aside from the drafting of 2022 Calder Trophy-winning defenseman Moritz Seider). And understandably, fans began to wonder what the delay was, as several other NHL teams with coaching vacancies promptly filled them with the likes of Bruce Cassidy (Vegas Golden Knights), John Tortorella (Philadelphia Flyers), Peter DeBoer (Dallas Stars), and Paul Maurice (Florida Panthers).
However, the reason why Yzerman has yet to make an official hire may have just been revealed. We're all certainly aware of his past connections to the Tampa Bay Lightning, whom he built into the powerhouse that they are today during his years as their GM. And one of the hirings that Yzerman made while working down south was current Lightning assistant coach Derek Lalonde.
According to NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, who has as many insider connections in the game today as anyone, Yzerman met with Lalonde earlier this week.
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) June 29, 2022
Lalonde had just helped the Lightning advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third consecutive year, where their dreams of becoming the 1st NHL squad since the early 1980's New York Islanders to win three straight championships were dashed by Detroit's former rival, the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.
He already has a past tie to the Red Wings, having led their ECHL affiliate Toledo Walleye to two divisional championships while also earning the John Brophy Award as ECHL Coach of the year his first season. He later took over as head coach of the AHL's Iowa Wild before being brought abouard by Yzerman and the Lightning in 2018.