By Michael Caples -
Sault Ste. Marie native Jeff Blashill is sprinting through the coaching ranks once again.
The Red Wings announced via their official Twitter account today that Blashill, an assistant coach for Detroit, will be the new coach of their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be the head coach of the Griffins,” said Blashill in a press release from the Red Wings. “I had a tremendous experience inDetroitlast season and will lean on that experience as I make the transition behind the bench inGrand Rapids. I worked with most of our young players at training camp and in the preseason last year. We have some great talent in the organization. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Blashill replaces Curt Fraser, who accepted an assistant coach position with the Dallas Stars earlier this week. Fraser guided the Griffins to a 146-130-18-22 record over four seasons.
“We’re very excited to name Jeff the next head coach of the Griffins,” said Red Wings’ GM Ken Holland in the release. “He’s a talented coach that has a proven track record of working well with young players. He did a tremendous job for us inDetroitlast season and we look forward to having him groom and mentor our prospects inGrand Rapids. We would also like to thank Curt Fraser for his four years of service behind the Griffins’ bench. He did an outstanding job for us. We wish Curt and his family nothing but the best inDallas.”
Blashill, 38, spent the 2011-12 season behind the Red Wings’ bench. Before coming to Detroit, Blashill was the bench boss for the Western Michigan Broncos for one season. During that time, the Broncos finished 19-13-10 (10-9-9) in conference play, and made their first appearance in the CCHA title game since 1986. It was also the first time since 1996 that Western Michigan reached the NCAA Tournament.
From 2008-10, Blashill was the head coach and GM for the USHL’s Indiana Ice. In his first season with the Ice, the Michigan native guided them to a franchise-record 39 wins, and a Clark Cup championship. He finished with a 72-43-5 record in USHL play.
Blashill is also one of the men responsible for the strength of the Miami University program. He served as an assistant coach for the RedHawks for six seasons. During that time, the players he helped recruit and coach included three Hobey Baker finalists, four CCHA All-Rookie Team selections, 11 first or second team All-Conference players, and six All-Americans.
And with keeping with his Michigan connections, Blashill was a goaltender for Ferris State from 1994-98.
“Jeff is one of the brightest young coaches in hockey and we’re happy to welcome him to Grand Rapids,” said Dan DeVos, co-owner, president and CEO of the Griffins. “His deep Michigan roots, familiarity with West Michigan and intimate knowledge of both our players and the Red Wings organization make him a natural fit for the Griffins.”