The Detroit Red Wings made it official on Tuesday, naming Jeff Blashill as the 27th head coach in team history.
Blashill’s hiring had been expected since former head coach Mike Babcock left to take over the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 20. The Red Wings didn’t want to announce anything with Blashill still coaching the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Griffins were eliminated by the Utica Comets in the Western Conference Finals a week ago, paving the way for Tuesday’s press conference.
Blashill coached Grand Rapids for three seasons, leading them to a Calder Cup Championship in his first year with the team in 2013. In that time, the Griffins compiled a 134-71-23 record and never finished lower than second in the Midwest Division.
Prior to taking over the Griffins, Blashill spent one year as an assistant to Babcock with the Red Wings. A former collegiate goalie for Ferris State, Blashill got his coaching start as an assistant with the Bulldogs before moving on to the Miami Redhawks for six seasons. Blashill got his first head coaching job with the USHL’s Indiana Ice in 2008-09 and led them to a Clark Cup Championship in his first year. For the 2010-11 season he jumped to the Western Michigan Broncos, taking them to the CCHA Championship game.
In replacing Babcock, Blashill becomes Detroit’s first new head coach in ten years.
With assistant coaches Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer following Babcock to Toronto and Tony Granato turning down the optional year on his contract, Blashill has a blank slate to work with behind the bench in Detroit, though Granato may yet return.