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Detroit Red Wings general manager did the expected over the weekend, as the team announced that they would not be retaining the services of head coach Jeff Blashill for an eighth season behind the bench. Also joining him on the way out of town are goaltending coach Jeff Salajko and assistant coach Doug Houda.
Having just completed his third season as general manager of the team, Yzerman met with media members in his annual season-ending press conference, during which he explained that the regression of the team in the second half of the year field his decision.
"Ultimately to take that decision, I felt our team fundamentally, that we kind of — I don't even know if plateaued is the right word," Yzerman stated. "But we had gotten to a point where fundamentally, with and without the puck, we had regressed.
"We're at a point now where I felt like, OK, I've got to see if bringing in a new coach and coaching staff, can make a difference to get us back and get us going in the right direction."
Blashill took over from Mike Babcock in 2015 after several successful seasons in both the collegiate ranks and with Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins. And while he led the Red Wings to the postseason in 2016, they would fail to qualify the next six years in a row. And while many would point to the fact that Blashill and his staff didn't exactly have the cream of the crop of players to work with in most circumstances, it was clear to Yzerman that a new direction and voice in the room was needed.
"Jeff Blashill is a good hockey coach," Yzerman said. "He ran a really good program. I can certainly attest to our program for the last three years because it's been dictated by me. Under the circumstance where I'm trying to rebuild this team ... I say this sincerely, Jeff did an outstanding job leading this team, this organization, in a very, very difficult circumstance.
"Pardon the expression, but he ran a good program. This wasn't a complete s**t show."
Yzerman then went on to say that Blashill shouldn't be remembered in Detroit for his record, but rather the fact that regardless of the win-loss columns, he had the team working and practicing hard.
"We were organized and our guys practiced hard," he said. "And having to sit here every day and answer questions after the game and say it with dignity and be supportive and positive, that’s an extremely hard thing to do. I said it after year one and I said it after year two, you can't judge Jeff Blashill on the Detroit Red Wings' record. I think you judge it on how he ran this program and conducted himself, and was extremely professional in that. I think it’s unfair to put it all on the coach."
Yzerman then explained that he was comfortable in his decision prior to this season to retain Blashill.
"I sit here today, I had my reasons and I'm comfortable with them."
The search for a new head coach in Hockeytown begins, and it will arguably be Yzerman's biggest move to date as he continues to rebuild the organization.