With the NHL and NHLPA still trying to determine when the 2020-21 campaign will begin, it seems there’s some growing frustration around the league regarding this current situation, especially from the seven teams that didn’t participate in the league’s return to play over the summer.
From the Detroit Red Wings’ perspective, they haven’t been able to take part in any live games since early March and the majority of their players have been limited to holding just small on-ice workouts over the last few months. Though this extended off-season has provided some much-needed rest, it still hasn’t been an ideal situation for anyone involved as they’d all prefer to be playing right now.
Joining The Word on Woodward podcast on Thursday, coach Jeff Blashill admitted he isn’t too concerned about potentially receiving an extended training camp and is more focused on having his players ready for the start of the season. Since he hasn’t been behind the bench in almost nine months, the Red Wings’ head coach can’t wait to return to the ice and start coaching once again whenever camp opens.
“Whatever the camp we get, whatever amount of time we get, we’re going to maximize that and we’re going to have to be ready to go,” Blashill explained. “It’s going to be equal footing for everybody. So if we get 21 days that’s great, if we get 14 days that’s great, if we get 10 days, whatever we get, honestly, right now we just want to play hockey. I want to coach hockey, our guys want to play hockey and we really don’t care what the timeframe is – we just want to get going.”
Despite the lack of action across the league over the last month, the Red Wings have been one of the most active teams this off-season and have added notable players like Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal, Vladislav Namestnikov, Thomas Greiss, and Troy Stecher. Though it’s too early to determine any line combinations, Blashill explained how he’s expecting each of the new additions to come in and earn their playing time rather than having it handed to them based on their prior performances.
“I think Steve [Yzerman] did a good job of trying to help our team this year and I think we’ve got guys that have a chance to help us be better,” Blashill discussed. “Will they? That’s up to each guy to show and prove.”
“So, we’ll know the makeup of what our group looks like better once we get to camp and then guys have a chance to show that they can make us better. To say that jobs are open, I think that to me would be an obvious statement in the sense that we were a bad hockey team last year and we need to be a better hockey team. So guys have to prove that they can help us win more games than what we won a year ago.”
After having the top line carry the team offensively throughout the majority of last season, it’ll be extremely important for Detroit to receive quality performances from all four of its lines moving forward. Hoping to turn things around in 2021, Blashill discussed how the club can’t afford to be successful on just one line once again and will need everyone to create consistent scoring chances throughout the entire year.
“We have to get more out of more lines,” Blashill detailed. “Last year, if you look at the chances generated, generally it was based on the [Dylan] Larkin line and they also got a lion’s share of the ice time. I think as a coaching staff, we’ve looked at and said ‘how can we make sure we get more out of more lines?’ We certainly need Larkin’s line to be really good, but we need other guys to have important roles and need to get more out of more guys.”
Here’s the full episode: