The Detroit Red Wings on Monday named Jeff Blashill as the new head coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
He replaces Curt Fraser, who departed Grand Rapids one week ago as the winningest coach in franchise history. Fraser joined the Dallas Stars as an assistant coach.
Blashill, 38, becomes the ninth head coach in Griffins history and moves to Grand Rapids after serving as an assistant coach for the parent Red 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.
“We’re very excited to name Jeff the next head coach of the Griffins,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “He’s a talented coach that has a proven track record of working well with young players. He did a tremendous job for us in Detroit last season and we look forward to having him groom and mentor our prospects in Grand Rapids.”
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be the head coach of the Griffins,” said Blashill. “I had a tremendous experience in Detroit last season and will lean on that as I make the transition behind the bench in Grand Rapids. I worked with most of our young players at training camp and in the preseason last year. We have some great talent in the organization. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Blashill will be introduced to the West Michigan media during a press conference at Van Andel Arena later this week.
Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Blashill has rapidly ascended hockey’s coaching ladder, joining his fourth team in four seasons. He began his head coaching career with the USHL’s Indiana Ice in 2008-09, capturing a franchise-record 39 wins and a Clark Cup championship. He compiled a 72-43-5 mark in two seasons as the Ice’s head coach and general manager before departing for Western Michigan in 2010.
While in Kalamazoo, Blashill led the Broncos to a 19-13-10 record, doubling the team’s win total from the previous season and leading the team to its best conference finish (4th) since 1995-96. Additionally, the Broncos played in the CCHA championship game for the first time since 1986 and earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. Blashill was named a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year by College Hockey News, Inside College Hockey and USCHO.com.
“Jeff is one of the brightest young coaches in hockey and we’re happy to welcome him to Grand Rapids,” said Dan DeVos, co-owner, president and CEO of the Griffins. “His deep Michigan roots, familiarity with West Michigan and intimate knowledge of both our players and the Red Wings organization make him a natural fit for the Griffins.”
Blashill began his coaching career by spending three seasons (1999-02) as an assistant at Ferris State University, his alma mater. He also spent six seasons (2002-08) with Miami University, helping the CCHA’s RedHawks qualify for the NCAA Tournament four times while recruiting three Hobey Baker Finalists, four CCHA All-Rookie Team members, 11 first or second team All-CCHA players and six All-Americans.
Blashill has also been a member of Team USA’s coaching staff three times – at the 2009 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2006 U-18 Junior World Cup.
The former goaltender spent four seasons between the pipes for Ferris State, earning the Bulldogs’ Rookie of the Year award in 1994-95 and a spot on the CCHA’s All-Academic Team for 1996-97. He also garnered the Ferris State University President’s Award for three straight years for having the highest grade point average on the Bulldogs.