The Red Wings considered plenty of higher-profile candidates with years of NHL experience when looking to fill their two assistant coaching positions. But head coach Mike Babcock opted to go in a different direction.
Concerned that his message might be getting stale after six seasons in Detroit, Babcock sought out fresh voices and new ideas, coaches who wouldn’t necessarily agree with him on everything.
That is why the Wings tabbed a pair of virtually unknown coaches from the AHL and college ranks, hiring former Western Michigan head coach Jeff Blashill and ex-Rockford IceHogs head coach Bill Peters on July 8. Neither has coached or played in the NHL. Each signed a three-year contract.
Blashill, 37, spent one season at WMU, leading the Broncos to their first berth in the CCHA championship game since 1986 after posting a 19-13-10 regular season record. He was a finalist for CCHA coach of the year.
Peters, 46, compiled a record of 122-97-7-14 in Rockford. Prior to that, he led the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup title as champions of the Canadian Hockey League. He played for Babcock at Red Deer College and was part of Babcock’s staff in Spokane in the late 1990’s, prior to coaching at the University of Lethbridge.
Detroit’s previous assistants are now head coaches, Paul MacLean with the Ottawa Senators and Brad McCrimmon with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
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