Dan Byslma, former Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres head coach has joined the Detroit Red Wings. His addition as an assistant bolsters the Wings coaching staff and adds much needed experience to a team looking to halt the decline.
It feels like Byslma has been brought in so that Detroit has an immediate replacement should current head coach Jeff Blashill be fired. Let’s face it, there’s a pretty solid chance of that happening if things don’t improve. The appointment of Byslma makes sense, he and Blashill worked together on Team USA’s coaching staff during the IIHF Championship earlier this year.
Since Blashill succeeded Mike Babcock in 2015, the team has gone 41/40/11, 33/36/13 & 30/39/13. There’s no question that the Red Wings are going through a rebuild and on early reactions, have drafted well this year.
This is of course, pure speculation but it feels like the rebuild also includes the potential replacement of a head coach who hasn’t really delivered anything close to the success that the Red Wings are used to. In April it was confirmed that Blash wasn’t going anywhere, but with a number of coaches whose contracts are expiring, there may be changes elsewhere behind the bench. A month later NHL.com reported that goalie coach Jim Bedard’s contract wasn’t being renewed and assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler had been shifted to the press box.
Poor numbers aside, it’s difficult to pin the Red Wings problems purely on the coaching staff. The challenges are mostly on the ice. History as taught us however, that when a team is struggling and there are no immediate signs of improvement, the head coach gets the axe. I don’t think many would support this move but across pretty much all sport, it’s a fact that it’s easier to replace one coach than it is to replace 20 players.
As a Red Wings fan, I’m eager to see what Byslma can add to improve the team, but I want to see him beside Blashill, not replacing him. It’s likely that the current head coach has at least another season in Detroit as long as the results don’t deteriorate much more than they have done. But empty seats speak volumes and the team’s fortune don’t start to improve, I suspect we’ll see Byslma replacing Blashill.