The guess here is we are watching the final days of the Jeff Blashill era with the Detroit Red Wings. He may last the rest of this season, but it would be a surprise if he survives the 2022-2023 season.
Blashill is 60-123-21 in the last three seasons with the Red Wings. And an up-and-coming team typically loses in one of two alarming ways.
The first is that they get blitzed. For example, how many of you still feel the pain of the 11-2 whipping by the hated Pittsburgh Penguins?
Or the second way, which is the Wings play their asses off only to cough up the puck during the waning minutes of a winnable game and lose in heart break.
The defense is a sieve. In the last 15 games, the Red Wings have given up 10 goals to Toronto, nine to the Phoenix Coyotes and 11 to the Penguins.
Most of us believe in General Manager Steve Yzerman. He helped bring a Stanley Cup to the Tampa Bay Lightning. His trades and draft picks received a universal applause in Detroit. So why does a man of supreme brilliance keep Jeff Blashill?
“This has been an up and down year for us,” Yzerman told The Detroit Free Press. “We’ve had a lot of progress. The last six weeks of the season have been disappointing for all of us. Jeff and I will sit down at some point and talk about our team and where we’re going with our team and what we need to do.”
Here is my theory as to why Blashill remains Red Wings coach and why Yzerman did not make a move when the clock was ticking on his top guy, Gerard Gallant, who is now coaching the New York Rangers.
Although the Red Wings show flashes of brilliance and the future looks bright with rookies Mo Seider and Lucas Raymond, he knows this roster is not ready to compete for a playoff spot. Yzerman wants the next coach to compete for Stanley Cups. If he brings in his guy now, the Red Wings would still look bad and have terrible nights.
The Red Wings still do not have a top 100 player in the league. Dylan Larkin and Seider are close, but they are not there yet.
He does not want a groundswell of folks demanding his number one choice as coach be fired. He might find the need to fire his first choice and be force trying to win a championship with his second or third choice.
The quote above suggests that Yzerman is past the marriage to Blashill. He could pull the plug this summer. The Red Wings could easily move on from Blashill. The average NHL head coaching salary is somewhere between $2.5- $3.0 million. Blashill makes $800,000.
Unless there is a mutiny in the dressing room I do not know about, I’d bring him back next season. But Jeff Blashill is on a super-short leash. Next season, the Red Wings should be at least a .500 team. The rash of blowouts must stop and young players must develop. If none of these things happen it is time to move on from Blashill, even if it might be a tad early to bring in Yzerman’s guy.
Follow Foster on Twitter at TerryFosterDet.
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