Detroit Red Wings bring back coach Jeff Blashill amid prolonged rebuild

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill has been given a contract extension despite a losing record and missing the playoffs in five straight seasons.

General manager Steve Yzerman made the announcement Tuesday. Terms were not disclosed.

“It’s hard to coach a rebuilding team,” Yzerman said on a Zoom call with reporters.

Blashill, 47, just completed his 10th season with the organization, which ended with an overtime loss to Columbus on May 8. Both teams finished with a Central Division-low 48 points in the pandemic-shortened season.

“We’ve been through tough times and to get a chance to continue to lead this team is something I’m grateful for,” Blashill said. “I’m aware of where we have been the last number of years and I want to get us back to a much better spot.”

The Red Wings earned a point in 43% of their games, one season after easily having the NHL’s worst record and one of the worst marks in team history.

“Our players play hard and that’s a reflection of the coaching staff,” Yzerman said.

Blashill originally joined the Red Wings as an assistant coach for the 2011-12 season. He was hired as head coach after Mike Babcock left to take over the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015, and his tenure as head coach is the third-longest in the NHL.

He was previously given a two-year contract extension in April 2019, before Yzerman was hired in Detroit.

The Red Wings made the postseason in 2015-16, Blashill’s first year behind the bench. Detroit spent the next five seasons mired in a prolonged rebuild, posting the lowest points percentage in the NHL (.420) from 2016-17 to 2021. Blashill’s career record is 172-221-62.

The rebuild will continue under Blashill. The Red Wings have 11 picks in the first five rounds of the 2021 NHL draft.

“It’s important to have a coach that has a calmness and a willingness and patience to have these younger players go through the growing paints of playing in the NHL,” Yzerman said.

The Red Wings’ postseason drought is their longest since 1979-83.

Yzerman acknowledged he could have decided to have a new coach, but said that wouldn’t matter if the team doesn’t improve.

“If we don’t have good players, it’s not going to change,” he said.

Yzerman also announced that assistant coach Dan Bylsma “will pursue other NHL opportunities in 2021-22.” He was in charge of the team’s forwards and the power play, which ranked 30th (11.4%) in the NHL.

“In his heart, he’s a head coach and he wants to be a head coach,” Yzerman said. “That’s the biggest reason for him leaving.”

Bylsma won a Stanley Cup as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and also has served as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Published: 2021-05-18 23:57:16

Tags: #Detroit #Red #Wings #bring #coach #Jeff #Blashill #prolonged #rebuild

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