It’s official: Jeff Blashill is the Detroit Red Wings’ new head coach.
Blashill was widely considered the heir apparent to Mike Babcock, who just left to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. He signed a four-year deal with the team worth an undisclosed amount.
Blashill has been the popular and successful coach of the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for three seasons.
Prior to that, he was a Red Wings assistant coach under Babcock, and coached various college hockey teams, including the Western Michigan University Broncos.
Since he’s already familiar with the team’s management and players, Blashill says he wanted to break into the NHL as a head coach with the Red Wings. He also had personal reasons.
“I was a Red Wings fan, an avid Red Wings fans, growing up,” says Blashill, who was born in Detroit and raised in Sault Saint Marie. “It’s a great city that I believe in. A great organization, original six [team].
“I realize this is one of the most coveted jobs in the National Hockey League.”
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says Blashill has a reputation for grooming young talent, including a number of current Wings players who came up through the Griffins.
Holland says he didn’t even conduct an interview process because Blashill “was really the only candidate” for the job.
“I made the decision a year ago, when Blash decided he didn’t want to interview for any other jobs,” Holland says. “Jeff Blashill was the guy.”
At 41, Blashill is the second-youngest current NHL coach. He’s also the Wings’ first-ever American-born coach.