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Detroit Red Wings Steve Yzerman to Retain Jeff Blashill as Coach

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Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman on head coach Jeff Blashill. Shot on February 24, 2020 in Detroit.

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has said he has no plans to change coaches, which means Jeff Blashill will be back for the 2020-21 season.

Yzerman spoke to the media during a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon, his first availability with journalists since February 24, and the day after the NHL canceled the rest of the 2019-2020 regular season in because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“My comments and thoughts on head coach Jeff Blashill have not changed since February,” said Yzerman. “I have no plans to change coaches at this time. “

The Wings had a record 17-49-5, the worst in the league, when the NHL broke the season on March 12.

Blashill is 153-194-52 in 399 games with the Wings. He was appointed coach in May 2015, promoted after Mike Babcock left for Toronto. Blashill led the Wings to a 41-30-11 record in their first season, good enough for third place in the Atlantic Division, but they were ousted by the Tampa Bay Lightning (where Yzerman was general manager) in a first round series.

This season, the Wings were eliminated from the playoffs on February 21, marking the fourth consecutive year that they have not advanced.

Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill chats with referee Mike Hasenfratz, right, during the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday February 16, 2020. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)

Yzerman inherited Blashill when he was hired as general manager in April 2019. Yzerman approved Blashill’s training, noting his success at lower levels of hockey. Blashill revealed during the season that Yzerman told him last summer not to worry about the record (because the team is likely to fight again) and to focus on developing the young key players of reconstruction – Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha and Filip Hronek, among others.

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When he met the media after the February deadline, Yzerman supported Blashill, saying it was unfair to judge him on the team’s file due to various factors, including the number of injuries (Larkin and Bertuzzi were the only wings not to miss a game this season).

Mailbag: Can Steve Yzerman take them to the playoffs in 2021?

Blashill, 46, joined the Wings organization in July 2011, when he was hired as an assistant by Babcock. A year later, he was appointed coach of the AHL affiliate of Wings, the Grand Rapids Griffins, replacing Curt Fraser.

Blashill, who hails from the Detroit area and grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, coached the Griffins at the Calder Cup in 2013. In three seasons with the Griffins, Blashill was 134-71-11 and won seven of nine playoff series.

Contact Helene St. James at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Learn more about the Detroit Red Wings and subscribe to our Red Wings newsletter.



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