During Jeff Blashill’s NHL coaching career, new strands of hair on his head sprout up about as often as victories.
For both of those reasons, the Detroit Red Wings coach is somewhat fascinated by Red Wings prospect Chase Pearson.
“With respect to Chase, number one I like his flow,” the follicly-challenged Blashill admitted. “I think his flow looks great. It’s something I’m super jealous of that I wish I could still have.
“I used to have a flow just like that back in high school. It was pretty high end, I guess I would say.”
Pearson’s wild, out of control hairstyle is certainly making him stand out in the crowd of hopefuls seeking to get noticed during Red Wings training camp.
“This is a quarantine experiment,” Pearson explained of his flowing locks. “Let’s see how long it can go.
“I’m going with it.”
Drawing The Battlelines
On the ice, Blashill was also abundantly clear the areas where Pearson must grow in order to flow into an NHL job.
“He’s a big body,” Blashill said of Pearson. “He knows how to use his body. He’s got pretty good defensive instincts.
“I think he needs to make sure that he’s an elite penalty killer, because you have to have a role if you’re going to earn your way on to that fourth line. It’s not just good enough being good five-on-five. You gotta be an elite penalty killer.
“You gotta show you’re gonna help us. How do you do that? For us, certainly shot blocking is a key to the way we want to kill penalties in our zone, so he’ll have to show he’s an elite shot blocker. And then he’s gotta win faceoffs. Those are two things that at the fourth-line center position you gotta do great.”
— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) September 16, 2021
Pearson is approaching this camp carrying with him the notion that the fourth-line center job that came open in Detroit with Luke Glendening leaving for the Dallas Stars is his to possess.
“Yeah, that’s the mentality I have to have if I want to play in the NHL,”Pearson said. “I’ve got to believe it myself. Whether or not I start the year in Grand Rapids, I’m going to shoot for Detroit.
“Regardless, I think I’ve put in enough time and hopefully if I am in Grand Rapids, I can show that I’m ready to make the next step to the NHL level at some point this year.”
He’s not the only one in this battle but Pearson is the only one in the battle without NHL playing experience on his resume. Both Carter Rowney (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning) also have their names on the Stanley Cup.
“Carter Rowney’s got experience,” Blashill said. “Mitch Stephens is a young player who thinks he’s ready to take that step into being a regular NHL player.
“So we’ll see where the competition goes.”