Yzerman Says Plan -- Right Now -- Is To Keep Blashill As Red Wings HC

"Jeff has done a very good job," he said.

Will Burchfield
February 24, 2020 - 6:06 pm
Jeff Blashill

Bruce Bennett / Staff

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Without declaring Jeff Blashill will return next season, Steve Yzerman gave the Red Wings head coach a strong endorsement Monday. He won't make an official decision until the offseason, but it sounds like he intends to bring back Blashill for a sixth season behind the bench. 

"We’re going to sit down and go over it, but again, I think Jeff’s done a really good job," Blashill said as he met the media in the wake of the trade deadline. "I’ve enjoyed working with him, and as of right now I don’t plan to make a change. So you read into that what you want." 

The Red Wings are by far the worst team in the league this season, the new low of Blashill's tenure. They've lost the most games in the NHL since he took over in 2015-16. Of course, that's coincided with Detroit's ongoing rebuild.

In First Year Under Yzerman, End Could Be Near For Blashill

The team's 14-45-5 record notwithstanding, Yzerman said he's "enjoyed working" with Blashill in his first season as GM. 

"It’s unfair to judge Jeff Blashill on our team’s record. Really, it is. I put this team together," Yzerman said. "I had expectations for the year, (which) were, I don’t think this team is a playoff team, honestly. A lot of things would have to go right for us to be a playoff team. Obviously that hasn’t happened and a lot of things went wrong that we didn’t necessarily perceive, whether it be injury or what not.

"I can tell you that Jeff has done a very good job, he and his staff, with these players. It’s been a very difficult season and I think they’ve managed it very well and coached the team very well under very difficult circumstances."

Gerard Gallant Is Available -- Will Yzerman Make The Move?

Under former GM Ken Holland, the Red Wings gave Blashill a two-year extension at the end of last season. They were pleased with the way he was developing the team's young core. Yzerman would seem to agree.

He disputed the notion that such development has leveled out this season, which would be a significant reason to left Blashill go. 

"No, I think there’s ups and downs. It’s been a struggle for a lot of guys, and that’s okay. Part of life is struggling, and the guys who really benefit from it are the guys who are mentally tough enough to get through it," Yzerman said. "I go back to my own career, it was not a linear path. There were some bumps along the way and you learn from it and you get better."