3 intriguing potential replacements for Jeff Blashill.
Mike Wulf/CSM/Zuma  

3 intriguing potential replacements for Jeff Blashill.

All have former ties to the organization.

Jonathan Larivee

The Detroit Red Wings announced a major change to their organization on Saturday when they officially confirmed that longtime head coach Jeff Blashill would not return for another season. The hiring of a new head coach will mark a major shift in direction for the organization not only for the obvious changes a move of this nature brings about, but also due to the fact that this will be the first coaching hire of Steve Yzerman's tenure as general manager of the Red Wings.

At this time no one knows which way Yzerman will go when it comes to a new head coach, but he has hired 2 coaches in the past during his tenure as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In both those instances, Yzerman chose to hire men that had never coached at the National Hockey League level before. He first hired Guy Boucher who led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final in his first season as head coach, and later he would hire head coach Jon Cooper who remains with the Lightning even now and has had tremendous success behind the bench for that organization.

As I said no one knows which way the Red Wings GM will go on this one but it is fun to try and predict these things, so today I will be looking at 3 candidates that have interesting ties to the Red Wings in one way or another and could all be considered legitimate candidates to replace Blashill come next season. 

#1 Igor Larionov.

The 61 year old Russian's name has often been linked to the Red Wings as of late and with Blashill being fired the door is finally open for Larionov who has shown an interest in coaching. The former Red Wings centerman not only played for the organization during his 921 game NHL career but did so during a time when a young Steve Yzerman was also a member of the Red Wings roster. In 2020 Larionov was named the head coach of the Russian Junior team and he made his debut with that squad at the 2021 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, but failed to medal in tournament.

His lack of head coaching experience at the NHL level would fit the profile of the 2 previous hires, but both Boucher and Cooper had experience coaching at the AHL level prior to being recruited by Yzerman.

#2 Lane Lambert.

Another former Red Wing comes in at number 2 and this time it's former Red Wings centerman Lane Lambert. The 57 year old is currently an assistant head coach in Long Island under Jack Adams winning head coach Barry Trotz and many consider him to be a very serious candidate for the coaching gig that just opened up in Detroit.

Lambert has Stanley Cup championship experience as an assistant coach under Trotz during their time with the Washington Capitals in 2018 and like the previous hires of Boucher and Cooper he has no experience as a head coach in the National Hockey League. Lambert also fits the profile in another way though having previously been a head coach at the American Hockey League level with the Milwaukee Admirals prior to his coaching career in the NHL.

Last and certainly not least, Lambert also played alongside Yzerman during his playing career in the NHL.

#3 Mike Babcock.

It seems extremely unlikely and he certainly doesn't fit the profile of Yzerman's previous hires but I would be remiss if I did not mention former Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

Babcock was once considered by many to be the best coach the NHL had to offer and the fact that it took a record setting contract offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs to pry Babcock away from the Red Wings in the first place is an indication of that fact. The disgraced former NHL head coach is currently coaching for the University of Saskatchewan alongside his son and has given no indications that he is currently pursuing a return to the NHL, but could his ties to the city of Detroit, the Red Wings, and to Yzerman himself be enough to bring him back into the NHL spotlight?

Babcock boasts 18 seasons of NHL experience and remains to this day the only coach in the world to boast a Stanley Cup championship, an International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship gold medal, and an Olympic gold medal.

Whether or not an organization that values loyalty above all would be open to bringing back Babcock after he chose to leave to Toronto remains to be seen though, as does whether or not any NHL team is willing to take on the public relations challenge that it would be to bring Babcock back into the NHL.