The Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday signed Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill to a new three-year contract, extending his tenure with the organization through the 2016-17 season.
“Jeff Blashill has done a tremendous job in Grand Rapids,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “Our young players were instrumental in getting us into the playoffs for a 23rd straight season, and the championship experience they got under Jeff in Grand Rapids was invaluable in turning those young players into NHL players. We’re excited to keep one of the top young coaches in hockey to continue to lead in the development of the next wave of Red Wings.”
“I’m thrilled to be able to remain with the Griffins,” said Blashill. “Both the Red Wings and Griffins are top-notch organizations filled with talented people that I enjoy working with. My family loves it here, and I’m happy to be able to continue to call Grand Rapids home. The AHL is a very challenging league, and we have a great group of young players and veteran leaders. I’m looking forward to being able to continue to work with them.”
Blashill, 40, has enjoyed two monumental seasons at the helm of the Griffins. In 2012-13, his first season as head coach at the pro level, Blashill led the Griffins to the Calder Cup, marking the first championship in franchise history. During the 2013-14 campaign, Blashill helped the Griffins maintain prominence in defense of their title despite turnover which saw only four of their prior year’s top 12 scorers and just three of their top 10 playoff producers play a majority of the season in Grand Rapids. Blashill helped the team earn a regular season record of 46-23-2-5 (99 pts.) – surpassing the 42 wins and 92 points from its Calder Cup season – and ultimately led Grand Rapids to the Western Conference Semifinals, where it was eliminated by the regular season champion Texas Stars in six games.
In April, Blashill was named the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the American Hockey League’s outstanding coach for the 2013-14 season, as voted by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities. Blashill became the second Griffins head coach to be named AHL Coach of the Year, following the selection of Bruce Cassidy in 2001-02.
In February, Blashill became the first Griffins head coach in 12 years to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic, guiding the AHL All-Stars to victories over Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in both the skills competition and All-Star Game. The event, which took place at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland, marked the first international contests in AHL All-Star history.
Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Blashill played a key role in the success of the parent Red Wings by preparing 10 of his 2013-14 players for their NHL debuts, including nine as members of the Wings. In all, 17 members of Blashill’s 2013-14 squad were called up to play a total of 329 NHL games, and 13 players from his Calder Cup championship team logged time in Detroit during the 2013-14 season, helping the club extend its playoff streak to 23 consecutive seasons.
Blashill was named by the Red Wings as the ninth head coach in Griffins history on June 25, 2012 after serving as an assistant coach for the Wings in 2011-12, when he helped the team to its 12th consecutive 100-point season and 21st consecutive postseason appearance. Prior to joining the organization, he served as the head coach of the CCHA’s Western Michigan Broncos in 2010-11, earning several national coach of the year honors.