July 6, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Blashill a Finalist for Red Wings Job

CHN Staff Report

With already a record nine Division head-coaching changes this offseason, there could be another, and perhaps the most shocking of them all.

Coming off a remarkable first season, in which he took Western Michigan from doormat to NCAA tournament participant, head coach Jeff Blashill is a finalist for the vacant Detroit Red Wings assistant coaching position.

"I am interviewing, but they have not made a decision and I have not made a decision yet," Blashill told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "I do expect to know at some point by the end of the week. ... I think they are narrowing in to make a decision. And, at that point, I will make a decision."

Blashill, the 2011 CHN Coach of the Year, is part of a renewed commitment to hockey at Western Michigan, coming amid a time of great uncertaintly. The school showed its commitment by upping Blashill's salary from $150,000 to $275,000, and turned the news into a major press conference.

The former Miami assistant was head coach of Indiana of the USHL for two seasons before taking the Western Michigan job. He said that the allure of the Red Wings was too great an opportunity to ignore.

"I love Western Michigan. This is a special place in college hockey," Blashill told the Gazette. "I wouldn’t be talking to any other colleges, that’s for sure. But obviously it’s the NHL and the Red Wings are what they are."

WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard said the news isn't particularly shocking, since Blashill made clear when he was hired that the NHL was an ultimate goal. But it would throw things back into disarray for the Broncos' program, already facing the uncertainty of a murky future for its conference, the CCHA.

"Obviously having gone through this within the last year, certainly the job is different from where we were a year ago," Beauregard told the paper. "We would certainly have an idea of what’s out there, not that we would go back after what we had the last time."

Beauregard made clear the school would remain committed to hockey.

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