Jeff Blashill has been less than successful behind the Red Wings bench. Aside from his oft controversial line combinations, he’s only made the playoffs in 1 of his 3 years only to be eliminated in 5 games.
However, the performance of the team hasn’t been entirely his fault: Ken Holland is to blame as much as anyone. The coach is always the scapegoat in management’s attempt to tell the fans that “the lack of success falls on the poor partnership between our team and the coach”. This isn’t an appropriate approach Holland should take this off season in the event he is around. Blashill is a real candidate to be behind the bench next season.
In the event Blashill remains on the hook for missing playoffs, here are some potential coaching candidates to lead the Wings in the 2018-19 season.
Darryl Sutter has interested me since he was relieved of his duties in L.A.. He won 2 Stanley Cups in 6 seasons with the Kings and has a 634-467-184 (.565) record in the NHL.
Further to his success, however, what intrigues me the most is how he dominated the possession game with a rather underwhelming roster. Some of my colleagues find his style boring – and he is often referred to as one of the more boring coaches of the era – but let his numbers speak for themselves.
In 2015, L.A. finished with 102 points and led the NHL in possession with a 56.4% Corsi For (CF) – this is an insane number.
Nelson succeeded Blashill in Grand Rapids and has sported a 115-71-4 (.605) record in the AHL. He lead the Griffins to their second Calder Cup in franchise history and is the third person to win it as a player, assistant, and head coach. Further to this, he was granted permission to talk to the Coyotes for a coaching position this past offseason but the Wings seem to be fairly conservative with him in the event Blashill isn’t capable of coaching this team.
Nelson coached the Oilers in 2014-15 as an interim but was replaced by McLellan that offseason. I am concerned about his lack of experience in the NHL. When Babcock left, we were left in a similar position and many of us thought the promotion of Blashill was the best option – the NHL isn’t for everyone.
Although he is in his first career campaign as a head coach and is with the Florida Panthers, he could be a ‘one-and-done’ coach in Sunrise, Florida. He is a very interesting coach and is much more exciting than Sutter.
The Panthers will miss playoffs this season as well but they are held to higher expectations than the Red Wings and I think Dale Tallon is trying to do what it takes to get back into the post-season.
What I really like about Boughner is that he is willing to let players play. If a player has skill, such as Athanasiou, he isn’t afraid to give him deserved ice time both at 5v5 and the power play. Additionally, he uses skill on the penalty kill which is the best way to counteract an opposing power play.
As I mentioned above, Blashill remains the most likely coach for us. Further, Blashill has yet to have a season where the Wings have had high expectations; nor has he had a solid roster. I think whoever the GM of Detroit is next season will give Blashill another year. I’m not convinced Blashill is as bad as his NHL record suggests. It was honestly poor timing when he took the reigns, the team was bound for failure regardless of who was coaching.
All in all, I think Blashill deserves another season or two as long as a high-calibre coach doesn’t become available. Fans often put their blame into the hands of the guy they see running the team every game day – the coach. However, we really need to redirect our frustration for Blashill to Ken Holland, Tyler Wright, and Kris Draper. Both of the Wings and Griffins rosters fall on management and the director of amateur scouting – Wright. We don’t just need one new face in the front office but a new team entirely who can objectively breakdown this roster and be willing to cut ties with any player not named Larkin or Mantha.