Jeff Blashill resigned his post as head coach of Western Michigan’s hockey program Friday, the school announced, to accept one of two open assistant coach spots on the Detroit Red Wings’ bench. In his lone season in Kalamazoo, Blashill revived the Broncos, leading them to the CCHA Tournament finals — courtesy of a semifinal win over Michigan — and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“Today is a very emotional day for me,” Blashill said in a statement Friday. “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.”
Here’s what you need to know about Blashill:
• The 35-year-old Blashill won three separate national Coach of the Year awards for his efforts last season, from USCHO, Inside College Hockey and the College Hockey News.
• Prior to being hired as Western’s head coach, Blashill spent two years as head coach of the USHL’s Indiana Ice and led that team to a Clark Cup title in 2009.
• Blashill played his college hockey at Ferris State (1994-98), where he was a goalie. Prior to that, he skated in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers.
• His longest coaching stint came as an assistant at Miami (Ohio) from 2002-08. He also spent three season (1999-02) as an assistant at Ferris State.
• Under Blashill’s leadership Western Michigan finished last season ranked No. 11 in the country in goals-against average at 2
4. That strong defensive effort helped offset a WMU offense that scored just 2.78 goals per game, which was in the lower half of all D-1 teams. The year before Blashill’s arrival, the Broncos gave up 2.89 goals per game and scored just 2.11.
• Blashill is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.