The Red Wings franchise goes much deeper than just the players that put on the Winged Wheel night in and night out. Beyond the hunt for free agents, the formulation of contracts and devising a plan to meet the salary cap, general manager Ken Holland alongside head coach Mike Babcock work to create both a great dynamic in the Wings locker room as well as their AHL affiliates.
Beyond Babcock and Holland is a long list of coaches and developers that help create young prospects into NHL superstars. The Red Wings have lived by a motto of playing three years in the AHL before playing in the NHL.
Jeff Blashill, Griffins Head Coach, Signs Three-Year Extension
Jeff Blashill, head coach of the Red Wings AHL affiliate, Grand Rapids Griffins, has been the leader of development for the franchise for the past three years. He has helped form players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening to become NHL starters.
The 40-year-old Blashill was given a new coaching contract to remain the head coach of the Griffins through the 2016-2017 season. He had one year left on his previous contract.
General manager Holland was supposedly restricting access to the coach with the purpose of maintaining him as well as keeping other NHL teams away from speaking to him.
“He’s a very important person in our organization because we are in the process of trying to transition to some of the younger players that we have,” Holland said to redwings.nhl.com. “I met with Jeff last week and ultimately, Jeff is enjoying the role that he’s got. We are thrilled with the job that he has done from a competitive standpoint, from a development standpoint. He had one year left on his deal, we ripped it up and signed him to a new three-year contract and we gave him a significant raise.”
Jeff came to the Red Wings prior to the 2011-2012 season, as an assistant to head coach Mike Babcock. The year after, he was moved to the AHL.
In 2013-2014, Blashill was named the AHL’s Coach of the Year after leading the Griffins to a 99-point season. After two seasons of coaching, he has compiled an 88-49-6-9 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record while helping the Griffins to a Calder Cup championship in the 2013 season.
“I’m excited to continue to grow within the organization and to continue to have an opportunity in my role as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins,” Blashill said to redwings.nhl.com. “It’s been a great learning experience for me, it’s been a great life experience and I’ve really enjoyed helping our young Red Wings’ prospects develop while trying to win championships with the Griffins.”
The Griffins head coach will be heading up the coaching staff at the development camp next month. Alongside his development duties, Blashill will be leading the eight-team NHL Prospect Tournament that will be held in September in Traverse City, Mich.
“The one thing in my role is that you don’t know for sure who you’re going to have on any given day but certainly not who you’re going to have come October after the Red Wings have made their initial decision,” Blashill said to redwings.nhl.com. “I had the opportunity to coach Anthony at the prospects tournament and I was extremely impressed by his skill set and by his compete level and his want to learn and get better. So if I get an opportunity to work with him it will be exciting to watch his growth.”
Before his time with the Red Wings organization, Blashill was the head coach at both the collegiate and junior levels in the United States. He coached both the Western Michigan University Broncos as well as the Indiana Ice in the USHL.
Ex-Red Wings Assistant Bill Peters Named Head Coach of Carolina Hurricanes
Bill Peters was recently named the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes for the upcoming season. The 48-year old has been the Red Wings assistant coach for the past three seasons.
Beyond interviewing for the head coaching position in Carolina, he also interviewed with the Florida Panthers this offseason.
The Hurricanes are working on a flip in their franchise, coming off of Kirk Muller’s term as head coach where he combined for an 80-80-27 record over the past three seasons. The franchise’s new general manager, Ron Francis, fired Muller last month.
Francis had both his first big hire and fire within his first few months of calling the shots for the Hurricanes organization. After interviewing nine other candidates for the position, Francis chose to go with Peters to be the man behind the bench.
“You have to take the time to go through it and make sure you get the right guy,” Francis said, “and that’s what we did.”
Bill was offered a three-year contract to try and push the Hurricanes into the playoffs for the first time since 2009, where they appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals. Over the past eight seasons, that was the only time the team made the playoffs. As for the Stanley Cup, the ‘Canes have not raised the 35-pound trophy since 2006.
Through Peters’ career, he has gained a lot of experience in head coaching positions. He was the head coach for the Rockford IceHogs for three seasons in the AHL from 2008-2011 where he guided the team to two consecutive 40-win seasons. He sent eight players to the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks team in both 2010 and 2013.
“This is a guy that knows coaching,” Francis said.
Along with his time in the AHL he served as the head coach in the Western Hockey League for the Spokane Chiefs where he won the Memorial Cup in 2008.
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Information from the Detroit Red Wings was used in this report
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Austin Goodman is the host of Octopi Hockeytown at Impact Sports.