The Detroit Red Wings today announced that Jeff Blashill has been named the 27th head coach in franchise history.
Blashill, 41, joined the organization in 2011-12, spending one season behind the Red Wings’ bench as an assistant coach before being named head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate, on June 25, 2012. With the Griffins, Blashill led the club to three of the most successful campaigns in franchise history, highlighted by a 2012-13 campaign that saw Grand Rapids capture a regular-season Midwest Division title and eventually the first Calder Cup championship in the franchise’s 17-year history.
In 2014-15, the Griffins won the Midwest Division after reaching 100 points for the first time during Blashill’s tenure with a 46-22-6-2 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record over the AHL’s 76-game slate. The club advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons before falling to the Utica Comets in six games.
Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Blashill won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding coach in 2013-14 and was named head coach for the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic. In his three seasons with Grand Rapids, he compiled a 134-83-11 regular-season record and a 29-21 mark in the postseason, winning seven of nine total playoff series. He is the only coach in Griffins history to qualify for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, leading the team to 92 points or better each year.
Twenty-four players who skated for the Griffins over the last three seasons went on to play at least one NHL game, including Joakim Andersson, Danny DeKeyser, Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, who have all moved up to full-time roles with Detroit after winning the Calder Cup with Blashill in 2013. A total of 15 players who appeared for Detroit in 2014-15 spent time in Grand Rapids over the past three years. Additionally, 11 current Red Wings were also regulars in 2011-12, which Blashill spent as an assistant coach in Detroit, helping the team to a 12th consecutive 100-point season.
Blashill is now one of eight current NHL head coaches to have won a Calder Cup as an AHL bench boss, joining Vancouver’s Willie Desjardins (Texas, 2014), Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (Norfolk, 2012), Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau (Hershey, 2006), Edmonton’s Todd McLellan (Houston, 2003), Nashville’s Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999), Calgary’s Bob Hartley (Hershey, 1997) and Washington’s Barry Trotz (Portland, 1994).
He also joins Desjardins (2013), Cooper (2012), Laviolette (1999), Trotz (1994), New Jersey’s John Hynes (2011) and Boston’s Claude Julien (2003) as former Pieri Award winners currently running NHL benches.