It's been painful being a Detroit Red Wings fan during the Jeff Blashill era. Year 5 of "The Process" has made me vomit more than the fat kid in the movie "Stand by Me." That's essentially what Steve Yzerman is doing this season. Standing by a lame duck head coach he never hired in Jeff Blashill. Yzerman is burning his team to the ground so he can have less than a 20% chance to draft some kid named Lafreniere. Makes sense, right?
Last Easter Steve Yzerman was hired as Red Wings GM. No more Ken Holland. I recall thinking about which person should replace Blashill as head coach. Gerard Gallant was the first guy I thought of. But I figured he wouldn't be available given his Wayne Newton like success in Vegas. While Blashill stands behind the bench like a flamingo, Gallant is constantly motivating his players. He played the game. Knows the game. Earned his place in the game.
Gallant has won. He's succeeded at the NHL level. He's as old school as it gets. He's tough but fair. The Red Wings have become complacent. Comfortable. Passive. Spoiled. Entitled. Lazy. A country club atmosphere. Blashill was a puppet for Ken Holland. The Jason Garrett of the NHL. Coach Clap. He is a wannabe Mike Babcock without the results. He talks a good game but backs it up with nothing.
I don't buy the flawed narrative Jeff Blashill gets. I constantly hear the same excuse over and over. "It's not his fault. He has no talent." Baloney. That's a cop out. I've always believed a good coach can make a bad team average. An average team good. A good team very good. A very good team great. As in life, you are what you accept. For too many years now the Red Wings have accepted mediocrity. Failure. Underachieving. Too many excuses and not enough results.
I believe in the long term future of the Red Wings because I believe in Steve Yzerman. He proved to everyone how good he is at building a successful team with his work in Tampa. We all know he has a long history with Gallant. The two played 8 years together on the Red Wings in the 80s and early 90s. They're great friends. It seems like a perfect fit. But I wonder, does Gallant really want to coach the Red Wings NOW?
Does it make sense for Gallant to coach a doormat like Detroit so soon after he coached in the Stanley Cup Final? Or would he rather coach a team like Dallas who's currently a legitimate Cup contender? I don't know where his head is at or what he's thinking. What about the lustre of coaching an original 6 team? Does this carry any weight? Is it his dream to coach the Red Wings like it was Yzerman's dream to be Red Wings GM?
I don't know. We'll find out soon enough. Gallant won't have any problem finding an NHL head coaching job. Perhaps he'll take the next few months off. Or maybe he's hired tomorrow. I'm hoping he has a verbal agreement with Yzerman in place right now and then will officially be named Red Wings head coach in April.
Blashill can finish out the year playing his fiddle while the Red Wings continue burning to the ground. There's no point in Gallant taking over now, right? It would actually be bad. He'd likely win too many games and jeopardize the tank for Lafreniere. Yzerman can trade off some dead weight at the trade deadline, buy out 1 or 2 boat anchors and promote some youth next October and allow Gallant to start with a clean slate.
I'm getting ahead of myself. But if it isn't Gallant then
It needs to be someone like Gallant. A head coach who's going to come into that Red Wings dressing room and bust some skulls. Create an identity. Eliminate the excuses. Remove the entitlement. Make players earn their ice time. Reward success and punish failure. No more moral victories. No more losers mentality. No more handing out ice time based on seniority and contract length but instead on merit.
A team takes on it's coach's identity. I want the Red Wings to take on Gerard Gallant's identity. Tough. Talented. In your face. Take no prisoners. Relentless. Adaptive. Resilient. Stubborn. Winner. Just like Yzerman. Both Yzerman and Gallant succeeded as NHL players. They've both won in the NHL after their playing careers were over. But Yzerman hasn't won a Stanley Cup as a GM. Gallant hasn't won a Cup as a head coach. Do they achieve this together? I sure hope so.
Gerard Gallant is exactly what this Red Wings team needs. A shot in the arm. Chris Ilitch needs to sell hope right now. I'm realistic. This Red Wings team is very bad. Miracles will not happen. It's going to be at least 3 years until this Red Wings team is relevant again. That's ok. I'm fine with that. Just give me some hope, Stevie. That's all I ask. Hire Gerard Gallant to be the next head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.