Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman on head coach Jeff Blashill. Shot on February 24, 2020 in Detroit.
Detroit Free Press
Steve Yzerman would call Jeff Blashill after the road games and note that the Detroit The Red Wings played hard.
They lost again – they lost so many times during 2019-2020 – but Yzerman saw enough to continue to support the coach he inherited when he was appointed general manager in April 2019. Blashill did this that Yzerman wanted: to play the key to youth for reconstruction, and to maintain the culture of hard work and responsibility that Yzerman helped cultivate during his playing days.
This is one of the main reasons why Yzerman “has no plans to change coaches,” as he said on a 45-minute Zoom call on Wednesday, his first meeting with the media in more than a year. three months.
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The Wings were 17-49-5 when the NHL broke season on March 12 due to COVID-19, ensuring a final spot, but the dismal record – the Wings’ 0.275 percentage was the worst of league since the adoption of a salary. course in 2005-06 – did not divert Yzerman.
“I think Jeff did a good job,” he said. “I think it was a difficult position in his mandate here. The Red Wings are being rebuilt and have been for a while, and for the last two, three deadlines, the team has traded good players, valuable players, for future assets. And Jeff, with his head held high, worked hard with diligence and did a good job in dragging this team through a difficult situation throughout.
“As I said in February, I think it’s unfair to judge it based on our balance sheet right now, and frankly, we need to improve the team so that anyone can really criticize or rate the staff at ‘coaches. “
Blashill has 153-194-52 since taking over after Mike Babcock left in 2015. Babcock left because he knew the Wings were on the wane, and the Wings turned to man who had coached their best farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, to the 2013 Calder Cup Championship.
Yzerman approved Blashill before the season started and did so again on the February 24 deadline. Yzerman told Blashill last summer not to worry about wins and losses, but to focus on the development of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek, players essential to the reconstruction process. Larkin, Bertuzzi and Mantha led all average Detroit attackers on ice, and Hronek led the defenders.
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Just weeks before Yzerman was named general manager, Blashill was signed for a two-year extension by former general manager Ken Holland. When the Wings were eliminated from the playoffs on February 21, that triggered a clause converting second year into a team option.
Although Yzerman and Blashill spoke daily throughout the season, the future of Blashill was not one of the subjects. That did not change after March 12, although the likelihood of ending the season increased.
Detroit Red Wings Ken Holland announces new head coach Jeff Blashill of Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday June 9, 2015. (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)
“We never had a specific conversation,” said Yzerman. “He is the head coach of the team. I’m sure he heard my comments in February.
“We talked about our team, we talked very openly about our plan, what we are trying to do, where we are now and where we are going. It is our intention here during the off season to discuss our team to move forward. “
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The Wings have missed the playoffs for four consecutive years and will continue to fight in the near future. Yzerman knows firsthand how difficult reconstructions are – he waited 14 years to win his first Cup as a player. This is probably the reason why Yzerman did not prosecute Gerard Gallant, his former comrade who was Vegas Golden Knights in January – Gallant is used to coaching competitive teams, not rebuilding teams.
Yzerman admitted that the Wings were no longer the destination they were when he was a player. He made a few moves in his first year, via free agencies and trades, but they were all low-key. Yzerman’s priority is to sign RFAs including Bertuzzi and Mantha – “We are not going to let them go anywhere”, he said – but there will be money to spend on free agents , depending on the possible salary ceiling.
Yzerman plans to remain stable.
“I don’t want to go into free agency to cause a stir,” he said. “We will seek to make meaningful signatures, signatures that help improve the team. The right kind of people, the right type of player – and, ultimately, the contract must also work for us.
“We are ready to do all we can in free agency, but it is not” finding a player at any cost “. We try to build a good team over time, and the reality is, I think it’s very difficult to do it with a free agency. To get these elite players, you have to spend a lot of money for a long time, and I don’t know if we are in a market for these types of players right now. It is reality. If a player wants to play in Detroit, we will certainly explore all the opportunities. But the deal must work for both parties. “
The Wings have to replace goalkeeper Jimmy Howard, but they also need defense help, and they need to score. The last NHL deaths of 2019-2020 scored goals (145), goals allowed (267) and a goal differential (-122).
“We have to improve in all aspects, and it will take time,” said Yzerman. “I am confident that we will, and I think we will see an improvement next season. I can’t tell you what it means to win and lose, but we will try to answer all of these things. ”
Yzerman has a lot of work ahead of him, but for now, Blashill is Yzerman’s plan.
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.