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Jeff Blashill is ready to make the jump to the NHL.

Blashill, the Red Wings' minor league affiliate head coach in Grand Rapids told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids after Thursday's practice at Van Andel Arena coaching the Red Wings has been a career goal.

"I would like to be the next head coach of the Detroit Red Wings," Blashill said after the Griffins completed practice for their Western Conference Final series opener Sunday in Utica, New York. "That is an ultimate goal of mine."

An opening on the Red Wings bench was created Wednesday when Mike Babcock left to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Blashill, 41, spent one year as Babcock's assistant before coaching the last three seasons in Grand Rapids, including coaching the Griffins to the AHL championship in 2013.

General manager Ken Holland said Wednesday he plans to meet with Blashill next week and considers Blashill a leading candidate for the vacant position.

"I really want to keep our focus on this playoff series versus Utica," Blashill texted The Detroit News on Thursday evening. "I look forward to speaking with Ken next week but right now my singular focus is game one Sunday."

Holland likes Blashill's track record of winning in junior hockey, Western Michigan and Grand Rapids.

"He seems to have something, he wins wherever he goes," Holland said. "He wins. Why does he win? When I look at Mike Babcock, I see similarities in Jeff. Making players accountable. A tremendous work ethic. Passion. Having a plan. He has experience.

"He's certainly a leading candidate. I haven't made a final decision. I need to spend some time with him."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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