The Detroit Red Wings' season officially came to a close on Friday night when the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association agreed to move forward with a 24 team playoff format to close out the 2019 - 2020 NHL season. The decision came after NHLPA executives overwhelmingly voted in favor of the NHL's proposal. 29 votes in favor and only 2 dissenting votes, but unfortunately for 7 teams in the NHL that also meant that they would not get to complete the regular season.
In the case of the Detroit Red Wings it may come as a mercy that their catastrophically bad campaign as come to an end, but for general manager Steve Yzerman this now means he has a ton of work to do between now and the eventual start of the 2020 - 2021 NHL regular season. Although Yzerman does have some restricted free agents he will need to deal with, the top priority on his list is likely determining the fate of current Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill. Blashill has had very little success behind the Red Wings bench since taking over for former head coach Mike Babcock, although there are many who would place the blame for that at the feet of former general manager Ken Holland and the way he tinkered with his roster in his final years in Detroit. Whether or not you feel Blashill has been given a fair shake it seems at least possible that Yzerman, a newly appointed general manager, would now consider bringing in his own head coach.
Detroit Red Wings insider Ansar Khan recently published an article in which he names two potential candidates to replace Blashill, both men who Yzerman played with during his career as an NHL player. From Khan:
If a change is made, a couple of Yzerman’s former teammates would be among the candidates to take over – Gerard Gallant and Lane Lambert.
Lambert has never been a head coach in the National Hockey League so I would be very surprised to see Yzerman give him the head coaching position. Lambert currently is an assistant coach for the New York Islanders but it may be that Yzerman knows something here that we don't. Gallant on the other hand seems like a prime candidate given the level of success he has achieved in recent years with both the Florida Panthers as well as the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights. Gallant is a former Jack Adams Trophy winner, an award given to the best coach in the NHL that year, and boasts plenty of head coaching experience with both young players and veterans alike.
Perhaps the biggest question when it comes to Gallant is whether or not he would be willing to take the reigns of a team that has been quite bad in recent years, especially when there are opportunities on the horizon like that of the upcoming Seattle expansion team.