Red Wings Part Ways With Head Coach Jeff Blashill After 7 Seasons

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 30, 2022

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill tries to get the attention of the referee during the third period of a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Vancouver Canucks on October 16, 2021 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Red Wings announced Saturday they won't renew the contract of head coach Jeff Blashill, ending his tenure with the organization after seven years.

Blashill compiled a 204-261-72 record with just one playoff appearance, which came during his first season with the NHL team in 2015-16.

The 48-year-old Detroit native was the coaching version of a top prospect. He guided the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wings' AHL affiliate, to a Calder Cup championship in 2013 and won the league's Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as its top coach the following year.

He was promoted to head coach of the Red Wings in 2015 following the departure of Mike Babcock, who accepted an offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs to become the highest-paid coach in league history after leading Detroit to 10 straight playoff appearances, highlighted by the 2008 Stanley Cup title.

Blashill enjoyed some initial success as the Wings posted a 41-30-11 record to reach the 2016 postseason. They were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

Since that point, Detroit hasn't posted a record above .500.

Blashill doesn't deserve the sole blame for that lack of success. The Wings went through a rebuilding process that left them well short of the talent necessary to seriously compete in the recently loaded Eastern Conference.

That said, they were expected to show some signs of serious progress this season and that didn't happen. Their points percentage (.451) was only modestly better than last year (.429), and their 32-40-10 record left them 26 points out of the postseason in the East.

After Detroit's season ended Friday, Blashill said he hadn't heard from general manager Steve Yzerman but he wanted to focus on the promising signs from the campaign, including the development of standout rookies Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider.

"We stayed in the playoff race longer than we have in the last couple of years, probably since we started the rebuild," Blashill told reporters. "We had as much hope as we've had. That's a positive."

He previously served as head coach of the USHL's Indiana Ice and Western Michigan University before joining the Red Wings organization.

All told, Detroit decided it was time to move in a new direction as it attempts to finally turn the corner in its rebuild next season.