By: Joey Battaino
With Mike Babcock's decision to leave the Detroit Red Wings to become head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs still fresh on a lot of people's minds, we examine why the change could ultimately lead Detroit back into Stanley Cup contention.
Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reported Wednesday afternoon that Ken Holland and Grand Rapids Griffins Head Coach Jeff Blashill met to talk about the future on Tuesday, May 26th. With the Griffins involved in a Western Conference Finals matchup with Utica, I'd be surprised to see anything announced quite yet. However, Friedman said in the tweet "He (Blashill) is the favorite," Good news for Red Wings fans, who have been clamoring for Blashill ever since Mike Babcock decided to test the free agent waters.
Anytime there is changes in the front office, there are most likely player changes to follow. That will be the case in Detroit next season as Dan Cleary, Jonas Gustavsson, Eric Cole, and Marek Zidlicky are all unrestricted free agents and all will most likely have a new home in the 2015-16 season.
This is far from a hot take, but it was well documented that some in the Red Wings locker room were not exactly fans of Mike Babcock, especially some of the younger players. Babcock seems to be the coach that would rather go to war with aging veterans than a young player trying to make his mark.
With Babcock out, players like Andreas Athanasiou (4th round pick, 2012 NHL Draft), Anthony Mantha (1st round pick, 2013 NHL Draft), Alexey Marchenko (7th Round pick, 2011 NHL Draft), and, in my opinion, the most NHL-ready prospect,Teemu Pulkkinen (4th round pick, 2010 NHL Draft), will get their chance to prove to their former coach, Jeff Blashill that they are ready to take the next step, should he become the Red Wings' next head coach.
The key words in that sentence is "Get their chance". Many Babcock critics argued that the Red Wings were holding young players back too long. In years past, the Red Wings used many of their blue chip prospects to acquire big name players. The institution of the salary cap has somewhat dampered the Red Wings free agent gravy train. Detroit, more specially Jeff Blashill, has had the burden of breeding the Red Wings young talent, in hopes that they will bring the Stanley Cup back to motown.
With Pulkkinen, Athanasiou, Mantha, and Marchenko waiting in the wings, the Red Wings have a deep mix of savvy, skillful veterans and young players that are full of piss and vinegar. Look at the four teams that are left in the playoffs, folks. That is what it takes to be a champion.
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