Blashill Resigns For Red Wings Job
CHN Staff Report
Western Michigan head coach Jeff Blashill, the 2010-11 College Hockey News co-Coach of the Year, has resigned effective immediately to take an assistant coaching position with the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL.
“Today is a very emotional day for me,” said Blashill. “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream to coach in the NHL with the best organization in sports; the Detroit Red Wings. However, it is with extreme sadness that I step down as head coach of the Western Michigan Bronco hockey team.
"WMU is an extremely special place with special attributes. I am certain that with the commitment the university is making to hockey, that Bronco hockey will continue on its current path of becoming an elite program nationally. My goal when I became head coach was to bring the program to national prominence and I am totally convinced that will happen very soon, regardless of my leaving.”
The move throws Western Michigan for a long amid a time of great uncertainty. After years of mediocrity, Blashill dramatically reversed course, turning the Broncos from doormat to NCAA Tournament team in just one season. The school, in the aftermath of the Big Ten announcement and the uncertainty that created for CCHA teams, then made a bold statement of its commitment to the program by extending Blashill's contract and greatly increasing his salary.
Now, with Blashill's move and the further departure of Miami, and probably Notre Dame, from the CCHA, Western Michigan faces a major crossroads once again.
Athletic director Kathy Beauregard said, however, that WMU remains committed to beign a top-flight program.
“We are positioned perfectly for a high profile coaching search," Beauregard said. "There has never been a better time to become our next new Bronco hockey coach.
“We believe we have one of the top ten programs in the country and we made a decision as an institution to make our head coaching position one of the ten highest paid in college hockey. The hockey community is well aware of our investment in our program and we know we’re going to attract the absolute best coaching candidates throughout North America. As a director of athletics you’re always building a bench of potential coaching candidates to prepare for days like this when a head coach departs. I am already receiving inquiries, have assembled a small advisory committee and a comprehensive national search will begin immediately.”
Blashill led the Broncos to the CCHA Tournament Finals and the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. He finished the season with a 19-13-10 record.
“I would not have this opportunity without the incredible efforts of our coaching staff, support staff, and players. I was very lucky to hire two outstanding coaches, Pat Ferschweiler and Rob Facca. Both had an incredible impact on our success. Finally, a public thank you to our players, whose extraordinary commitment and effort, allowed us to have success that most thought was not possible. This great opportunity to coach for the Detroit Red Wings would not be possible without our players incredible efforts.”
As for the conference uncertainty, Beauregard said that Western Michigan will continue to explore all options, and could wind up as part of the new Western "super"-conference
“Our strategic plan for hockey is to position Western Michigan in the premier hockey conference in the country that aligns us to compete for a National Championship," Beauregard said. "To make this a reality, President Dunn, Coach Blashill and I have been actively involved in these discussions. We have traveled across the country to share our ‘Why Western’ story with institutions in the West, East, with Notre Dame and obviously the CCHA. We are at the table in these discussions and will make a thoughtful, strategic plan for membership options that match, high academic and hockey national prominence.”