Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill likes what the team has done during the NHL offseason. He’s convinced that the club is trending positively.
As to how quickly the Wings will get to where fans want them to be – back in the Stanley Cup playoffs – Blashill is less certain.
“We think we’re headed in the right direction,” Blashill said. “Now what does that mean?
“I can’t tell how you quick can we get to where we want to be. I can’t tell you those things. But I definitely feel like we’re headed in the right direction.
The Detroit coach sees a better club set to take the ice for training camp in Traverse City. The offseason brought defensemen Nick Leddy and Jordan Oesterle, centers Pius Sutter and Mitchell Stephens and goaltender and Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedeljkovic into the fold.
“We’ve gotten some players that are going to help us and now we’ve got to go to work,” Blashill said. “In terms of expectations, we’re going to start camp and we want to be better on Day 2 than we were on Day 1.”
Golfing With Legends
Blashill spent Saturday afternoon golfing with legendary players Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, as well as Michigan State Spartans basketball coach Tom Izzo as part of the celebrity event at the Ally Challenge PGA Champions Tour stop in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
The boys are back in town 😎 pic.twitter.com/38TcNQRyot
— Ally Challenge (@AllyChallenge) August 28, 2021
“I play a decent amount,” Blashill said of his golf game. He son Teddy, 15, caddied for Blashill.
“My son is trying to become a golfer and I play with my wife as date night. I’ve got a lot of friends around the area, so especially in July when (the workload) was light, we got to play a lot.”
Even though he works in the world’s best hockey league, Blashill couldn’t prevent his jaw from falling agape as he was joined on the first tee by two of the greatest golfers to ever play the game.
“I was awestruck walking in,” Blashill said. “I was super fortunate to have met Gordie Howe at the end of his life and I was around Ted Lindsay and had one-on-one conversations with him.
“It’s similar when I see these guys. They’re some of the best of all time. It’s really amazing. To say I was awestruck would be an understatement. And they’re super nice people. They treated us unbelievable, my son and I.”
“What a neat thing. I got hooked on golf really in ’86 when Jack won The Masters. I was a bag boy at Sault Ste. Marie Country Club. With him and Mr. Trevino, it was unbelievable.”
Picking Izzo’s Brain
Ever the coach, as they walked the course Blashill took advantage of the opportunity to talk coaching theories and strategies with Izzo, who guided Michigan State to the 2000 NCAA basketball title during March Madness.
“Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches in any sport at any time, so to be able to walk nine holes and pick his brain on a lot of stuff was really cool,” Blashill said.