After succeeding Babcock prior to the 2015-16 season, Jeff Blashill inherited a team doomed for mediocrity. Scotty Bowman and Mike Babcock are the two best coaches in franchise history – so to anticipate similar results from Blashill is an unfair expectation. However, his coaching style hasn’t succeeded in the NHL.
This year’s team isn’t bad enough to finish last overall and isn’t good enough to be a playoff team. During a post-game interview on Saturday after getting slaughtered by the Canadiens, Blashill stated that the current team is good enough to win. But the Wings have two 6-game losing streaks in 25 games this season. So why keep Blashill around?
First, let’s assume what everyone is thinking – there are better options out there. I’ve heard names such as Red Wings’ own Todd Nelson, as well as Dan Bylsma and Darryl Sutter. All of these options seem favourable to Blashill, who has a 74-66-24 record as head coach of the Wings. After this season, he will likely have a .500 career record, plus or minus a few games. I agree that Blashill is not the coach that will win with this team.
The three potential coaching replacements aforementioned would win more games this season – but still won’t make the playoffs. We should finish this season with Blashill coaching Blashill-style hockey. Although my opinion differs from Ken Holland’s, I want this team to finish as low as they can in the standings – and that will happen with Blashill in the driver’s seat.
Additionally, there’s no coach that will accept a job with the Red Wings as long as Ken Holland is a lame duck GM. Using the Flyers as an example, fans have been chanting “fire Hackstol” for some time but his job is safe so long as Hextall is the GM. If a new general manager were to replace Hextall, he would want his ‘own guy’ and would most likely fire Hackstol just to win the fans appreciation. If someone not-named Ken Holland is the GM next season, he will easily replace whoever the head coach is at that time.
As Red Wings’ fans, our best hope is to obtain the highest draft pick in this year’s draft as we can. Holland needs to start selling. Players such as Tatar, Nyquist, Mrazek, Howard, Oullet, and Jensen should all be used as trading pieces now. The sooner we sell players off, the sooner we bottom-out in the standings.
A combination of selling these players and keeping Blashill as the head coach will give us the best chance at drafting 1st overall next June. Let’s revisit who the next head coach should be during the offseason.