The next era in Hockeytown has begun. In less than a day after the Detroit Red Wings‘ season ended, not only is Jeff Blashill gone but the majority of the coaching staff will not be returning for next season:
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 30, 2022
Blashill Gone, What Legacy Remains?
The Red Wings’ Hockey Operations page lists only assistant coach Alex Tanguay and video coaches LJ Scarpace and Jeff Weintraub. The absence of Blashill, Houda, and Salajko from the list is large. Steve Yzerman will have the offseason to interview replacements. More immediately, fans will have the offseason to look back at the last seven years. They’ll decide how they will remember their former head coach. The years were tumultuous, going downhill yearly save for the first half of this season.
Blashill leaves Detroit and the distinction of the second longest-tenured head coach behind with a 204-261-72 record over 537 regular-season games. He led his team to the postseason once, winning one game and dropping four in his first season coaching in Hockeytown. His job was one set up to fail. Jeff inherited a team that had emptied the futures reserves to extend their playoff streak to 25 seasons.
While they did make it to the quarter-century mark, the winged wheels were ready to fall off by 2016-17. The Wings have not been back to the playoffs since. That leaves Blashill’s last chance at a positive legacy with the development of the young players. Outside of a couple of late bloomers, the consensus is that the team’s youth did not progress at the pace they should have. Some players even regressed over time under Blashill’s care.
What This Means for the Future
With Yzerman’s edict, his team will now be moving in a very different direction. Many saw the writing on the wall for Blashill whether they defended him or denounced him. Salajko and Houda are a little more shocking but show the concerns with special teams and goalie consistency were too big to ignore. Who Stevie Y chooses for the replacement coach is a mystery to all but him, as with most dealings in Detroit. With Jeff Blashill gone, the next iteration of the Red Wings to be more in their GM’s image. The offseason is only beginning. Fans in Hockeytown could be looking at the most exciting summer they’ve seen in years.