Early differences between Blashill, Babcock

Jeff Blashill has the Red Wings off to a 6-5-1 start this season. NHLI via Getty Images

It was such a natural succession plan that it’s easy to forget there would be any transition issues along the way.

In May 2014, after the Boston Bruins eliminated the Detroit Red Wings from the playoffs, five NHL teams contacted Red Wings GM Ken Holland looking for permission to interview Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill. He’d won a Calder Cup in 2013 and had emerged as the next, young coach working his way up through the American League, much like his good friend Jon Cooper.

Holland presented Blashill with an option. He could interview with these teams, and if he didn’t get one of those jobs, he still had a job in Grand Rapids with his current contract.

Or, he could opt for Door No. 2.

“Or, I’m going to give you a significant salary increase in return for you to stay one more year, and you’re the leading candidate if Mike Babcock doesn’t stay,” Holland recalls telling Blashill.

Holland was quick to point out that he didn’t promise Blashill the job if Babcock left after his contract expired, but the raise and a spot at the top of the list was enough for Blashill.