Red Wings call up Griffins head coach
Another Grand Rapids Griffin is headed to the Detroit Red Wings.
This time, it’s Head Coach Jeff Blashill, who was named the storied franchise’s 27th head coach today.
The opening for Blashill came from the departure of 10-year Red Wing Head Coach Mike Babcock, who bolted to Toronto for an eight year, $50-million contract.
Blashill signed a four-year deal with the Red Wings and will be the NHL’s second-youngest head coach.
Blashill is less than two weeks removed from taking the Griffins to the Western Conference Finals in his third season in Grand Rapids. His first season, 2012-13, he won the first Calder Cup in franchise history.
At a press conference in Detroit today, Blashill said Detroit “oozes character, led by winners. . . . I can't wait to go to work with them."
The 41-year-old Michigan native led the Griffins to one the franchise’s most successful three-year periods, compiling a 134-71-12-11 regular season record, two Midwest Division titles and a Calder Cup.
Last year, Blashill won the A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL Coach of the Year, following a season that ended with a better record than the Calder Cup season, despite losing nine players to call ups to Detroit.
During his time in Grand Rapids, Blashill has seen 24 players head to the NHL, including 14 who made their NHL debuts after first playing under Blashill.
Now, about half of the Red Wings roster is made up of his former players.
Prior to his job with the Griffins, he spent a season as Babcock’s assistant in Detroit.
“I’ve coached almost all of them at some point,” Blashill said. “There’s been trust and respect on both sides already.”
Before G.R. & Detroit
Prior to his time in the Red Wings organization, he spent a season as the Western Michigan University hockey team bench boss, doubling the team’s win total from the previous season and leading the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament.
Before his time in Kalamazoo, he spent two seasons with the USHL’s Indiana Ice, where he won the league’s Clark Cup championship his first season and compiled a 72-43-5 record in the two seasons.
Blashill played goalie at Ferris State University and began his coaching career as an assistant in Big Rapids in 1998. In 2002, he moved on to Miami University in Ohio, where he spent six seasons as an assistant.
The Business Journal ran an Inside Track feature article on Blashill last summer.
Blashill is the fourth Griffin head coach to get the call to the NHL.
Bruce Cassidy, Curt Fraser and Guy Charron earned bench jobs in the NHL with the Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks. Fraser and Charron were hired as assistant coaches.