By LARRY LAGE, AP Hockey Writer
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings are bringing coach Jeff Blashill for a fourth season, sticking with him while they rebuild after missing the postseason for the second year in a row.
“I’m big on experience,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said after announcing the decision on Tuesday.
Detroit extended its postseason streak to 25 years in 2016 during Blashill’s debut season as an NHL coach. The Red Wings have fallen short since then and are 104-105-37 in three seasons under Blashill, who won one playoff game two years ago. Holland, who has been Detroit’s GM since 1997 and recently agreed to a two-year contract extension, decided to stay with Blashill as the Red Wings look for the right mix of youth and experience to get back in the mix in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m certainly glad to still be the coach of the Detroit Red Wings. It’s a job I love,” Blashill said. “I’m excited about moving this franchise … where everybody wants it.”
The Detroit native will coach the U.S. team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship — for the second straight year — next month in Denmark.
The Red Wings hired Blashill in 2015 after Mike Babcock’s contract expired and the Toronto Maple Leafs gave him a $50 million, eight-year contract. Blashill was on Babcock’s bench in Detroit as an assistant during the 2011-12 season. He went on to coach the Grand Rapids Griffins, leading the Red Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate for three successful seasons. Blashill also led Western Michigan University for one season, helping the Broncos reach the CCHA championship game for the first time since 1986.
“He’s gotten better,” Detroit center Dylan Larkin said. “That sounds different to say about a coach. He has become more mature. … He has a good grasp of the room.”
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