Another Disappointing Season in Hockeytown is Brewing and Hopefully some Coaching changes as well
His hiring was all sorts of appealing. The Grand Rapids Griffins were brought back to life during his tenure, en route to a Calder Cup Championship in 2013. Two division titles, a playoff appearance in every season, and 134 total wins made him nothing short of qualified. Jeff Blashill was the coach for the Detroit Red Wings.
That was June of 2015. Now it is March of 2021, and the Detroit Red Wings haven’t remotely experienced any of the success Blashill’s Griffin’s did 6 years ago. At the time of this being written, Detroit has a record of 7-14-3. They lead the league in losses and have 5 games in which they have allowed 5 goals or more. Their resume also boasts the second worst penalty kill and the second worst power play.
It seems as if the Red Wings have been in this rut for years. It even seems like the Red Wings have been in this rut since Jeff Blashill took office. So why has nothing changed and when will the losing start to subside? Instead of trending up the team has been trending down, as the Wings win total has decreased for 6 straight seasons and is on pace for a seventh in 2021. Something has to change, and a new coaching staff may be what this hockey team needs.
Not Part of the ‘YzerPlan’
Back in January I wrote a season preview article for the Red and White with high hopes. Steve Yzerman had just put together a solid offseason. The roster had depth at the goaltender position it most desperately needed. Dylan Larkin had been named captain and it seemed like this season had the potential to mark the start of a turnaround for this prestigious franchise.
Instead it is almost as if the complete opposite has happened. COVID-19 swept out a large portion of the roster after the team had a decent 2-2 start. Players like Robby Fabbri and Jon Merril were out of the lineup for the better part of two weeks causing the Red Wings to lose 8 straight games. The list of hardships goes on and on for this team. Injuries, long road trips following strict health precautions, and blowout loses all add up to 17 points in just 24 games.
But how many of these slip-ups are excusable? Sure, there is a pandemic ravaging the nation, but that doesn’t mean your team should be losing games by a score of 7-2. The plethora of injuries should mean the calling up of young prospects from the AHL. However, Jeff Blashill has insisted on moving old, 4th-line, veterans up in the lineup and filling in the cracks with taxi squad players. He has constantly made remarks about not bringing up players that are not ready for the NHL scene. Isn’t that what a rebuild is all about though? How are you going to assess the future of your team if you never see them play at the highest level? Needless to say, the 2021 NHL season in Detroit, has been less than ideal.
Rebuilds don’t last Forever
On paper, the Red Wings are not a good hockey team. They allow nearly 3.5 goals per game which is 26th in the NHL. They are also not a good team on the ice. Sometimes they come out of the dressing room aggressive and motivated, while other times they look stale and beaten. It is the coach’s job to make sure his team is ready to play, and Jeff Blashill’s Red Wings look lost at times.
Steve Yzerman’s arrival as General Manager in 2019 marked the unofficial start of a rebuild in Hockeytown. Ken Holland was out as GM, but before he packed his bags he gave Jeff Blashill a 2-year contract extension. Although that contract expires at the end of this season, Red Wings fans would have no problem with an early exit for the 47-year-old.
It is apparent he has zero ability to coach a team through a rebuild. Detroit was the worst team in the league in 2019-20, and they look no different in 2021. The revival of a sports franchise doesn’t just mean the shuffling of a roster, but coaching staff changes as well. Instead of riding out another sad season, the front office needs to bring in a fresh face that could at least make the Red Wings a tough squad to beat. Not appearing in the playoffs for 5 straight years after making it a record 25 consecutive seasons leaves this hockey team looking for hope. Unfortunately, Jeff Blashill is providing any.
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