Blashill will remain behind Red Wings bench
Said GM Steve Yzerman of Jeff Blashill, above: “Jeff has, with his head held high, diligently worked hard, done a good job in coaching this team in a difficult situation.”
Whenever the Red Wings next hit the ice for a game, Jeff Blashill will still be their coach.
General manager Steve Yzerman announced the team is exercising Blashill’s option for the 2020-21 season in a Zoom press conference on May 27.
Detroit’s 2019-20 season is over since the NHL announced a plan to go right into a 24-team playoff if the league returns this summer. The season was suspended on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Red Wings clinched a last-place in the league with a 17-49-5 record and can now concentrate on whenever the next NHL season begins along with the New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
This was season was Blashill’s fifth as the Red Wings coach and he has a 153-194-52 record. The team has missed the playoffs the past three seasons.
“I think Jeff has done a good job,” Yzerman said. “I think it’s been a difficult position in his tenure here. The Red Wings are in a rebuild for a while. And for the last two, three trade deadlines, the team has traded valuable players, good players, for future assets and Jeff has, with his head held high, diligently worked hard, done a good job in coaching this team in a difficult situation throughout that.
“As I said in February, I think it’s unfair to judge him based on our record at this time. Quite frankly, we need to improve the team for anybody to truly critique or assess the coaching staff.”
Also during the press conference, Yzerman said the Red Wings will name a captain before the 2020-21 season. No one has worn the “C” for the franchise since Henrik Zetterberg retired just before the 2018-19 season.
Most expect that Dylan Larkin will be the captain. Many were surprised that Larkin did not get the “C” before last season, Yzerman’s first as Detroit’s GM. Yzerman said he wanted to get to know the team better.
Yzerman talked about Larkin, who turns 24 on July 30 and will be entering his sixth season.
“He’s a dedicated professional, he’s a hard worker, he’s very competitive, he’s a very good hockey player,” Yzerman said. “I’ve enjoyed my conversations with him and discussions about hockey and our team and whatnot throughout the course of the season, so I’m very impressed with him.”
Larkin has led the Wings in points the past three seasons.
“Being a member of the Red Wings and improving this team is very important to him and he takes it seriously,” Yzerman said. “He’s an excellent player for us, he’s a very important player. He’s a great leader, and he’s dedicated and mentally strong and committed.”
Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening served as alternate captains last season.
While the NHL Draft won’t happen until after the NHL completes this suspended season – if it does – the first of possible two phases of the NHL draft lottery will be on June 26, commissioner Gary Bettman announced.
The Red Wings maintain the 18.5 percent chance of getting the top overall pick, a 16.5 percent chance of drafting second, a 14.4 percent chance of picking third and a 50.6 percent chance of dropping to fourth, according to . They can select no lower than fourth.
Alexis Lafreniere of Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is the consensus top pick.