Wings lock up their insurance policy, Blashill, if Babcock bolts after next season

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings have locked up Jeff Blashill to keep him in the organization for three more seasons.

The move to keep him as the Grand Rapids Griffins coach gives the Wings an insurance policy if they are unable to work out a new deal with Mike Babcock, who’s heading into the final year of his contract.

“He’s very happy where he’s at,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in an interview last week. “I think he’d like to spend another year or two in the AHL, getting more experience coaching pros.

“He wants to be in the NHL but he’s got family in Michigan and enjoys where he’s at in Grand Rapids,” Holland added. “I told him some teams have called, he’s happy where he’s at. He’s happy to be in Grand Rapids for at least another year, maybe two. See how it goes.”

Holland called the salary increase “significant” since Blashill is being patient for another year or two.

Blashill spent one season in Detroit, where he was in charge of the power play, after leaving Western Michigan University.

“He can continue to develop, evolve as a coach in hopes that there continues to be interview opportunities in the next couple of years,” Holland said. “He’s very happy where he’s at.”

Blashill guided the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 seasons during his one season in Kalamazoo. His squad also made it to the CCHA tournament championship game.

“Mike Babcock identified Blash as a guy who’d be great on our staff,” Holland said. “He did a tremendous job turning around Western Michigan. A year under Mike Babcock in Detroit was beneficial and positive for his career.

“We wanted somebody who had aspirations to move on and bring in some energy,” Holland continued. “He did a fabulous job in Grand Rapids.”

Blashill won the Calder Cup with the Griffins last season.

He’s also played a key role in the development of the players in Grand Rapids, which showed as many of them helped in getting the Wings to the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season.

“We’ve seen in Grand Rapids over the last year, year and a half … scouts identified good players and Jeff Blashill has done a fabulous job in the development of those players,” Holland said. “If Blash really wanted to pursue a head coaching job, we would support him.

“It’s an important time in Detroit,” Holland added. “We’re trying to develop another group of players who’ll be key contributors to us having playoff success. It’s important that they learn to win the American Hockey League level. This season and next summer is a critical time in Detroit as we transition young players into being Red Wings. Jeff Blashill is an important guy as we go through that transition. He’s excited to continue to have an impact on the Red Wings.”

Blashill has also been an assistant coach at Ferris State and Miami University. In 2009, he was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice, a Tier 1 junior hockey team in the United States Hockey League. In his only season there he guided the Ice to the championship.

Blashill played goal for Ferris State from 1994-98.

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