Wings Elevate Blashill From Grand Rapids

Jeff Blashill Grand Rapids Detroit coach(DETROIT, MI) – The Detroit Red Wings yesterday announced that Jeff Blashill has been named the 27th head coach in franchise history. Blashill, 41, joined the organization in 2011-12, spending one season behind the Red Wings’ bench as an assistant coach before being named head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate, on June 25, 2012.

With the Griffins, Blashill led the club to three of the most successful campaigns in franchise history, highlighted by a 2012-13 campaign that saw Grand Rapids capture a regular-season Midwest Division title and eventually the first Calder Cup championship in the franchise’s 17-year history.

In 2014-15, the Griffins won the Midwest Division after reaching 100 points for the first time during Blashill’s tenure with a 46-22-6-2 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record over the AHL’s 76-game slate. The club advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons before falling to the Utica Comets in six games.

Born in Detroit, and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, Blashill won the Louis AR Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding coach in 2013-14 and was named head coach for the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic.

In his three seasons with Grand Rapids, he compiled a 134-71-12-11 regular-season record and a 29-21 mark in the postseason, winning seven of nine total playoff series. He is the only coach in Griffins history to qualify for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, leading the team to 92 points or better each year.

Twenty-four players who skated for the Griffins over the last three seasons went on to play at least one NHL game, including Joakim Andersson, Danny DeKeyser, Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, who have all moved up to full-time roles with Detroit after winning the Calder Cup with Blashill in 2013.

A total of 15 players who appeared for Detroit in 2014-15 spent time in Grand Rapids over the past three years. Additionally, 11 current Red Wings were also regulars in 2011-12, which Blashill spent as an assistant coach in Detroit, helping the team to a 12th consecutive 100-point season.

Blashill joined the Red Wings’ organization after one season as the head coach at Western Michigan University in 2010-11, where he doubled the Broncos win total from the previous season and led the school to its first appearance in the CCHA Championship game since 1986. He finished as a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year, and was named National Coach of the Year by College Hockey News, Inside College Hockey, and USCHO.com.

Blashill made his head coaching debut with the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice, compiling a 72-43-5 mark as head coach and general manager from 2008-10. The Ice earned a franchise-record 39 wins in 2008-09 and won the Clark Cup as champions of the USHL.

A former goaltender at Ferris State University, Blashill was the Bulldogs’ Rookie of the Year in 1994-95 and earned a spot on the CCHA All-Academic Team in 1996-97. He began his coaching career with four seasons as an assistant coach for Ferris State from 1998-02, followed by six seasons in the same role with Miami University in which the RedHawks qualified for the NCAA tournament four times.

Blashill represented the United States as an assistant coach at international tournaments on three occasions: the 2009 World Junior A Challenge (gold medal), the 2009 World Junior Championship (fifth place), and the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (silver medal).

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Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata