Torchetti adds experience, passion on Red Wings bench
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill added the final piece to his revamped coaching staff as the team named John Torchetti an assistant coach on Thursday.
Torchetti, 51, signed a two-year contract with Detroit and brings plenty of experience to the bench with more than 30 years in professional hockey as a player, coach and general manager. He will preside over the team's power play and forwards.
“I decided on John based on his skill set and ability and experience level,” said Blashill, who interviewed five candidates for the final coaching vacancy. “Areas he can really help us is, one, he has experience running a bench. He's got a little different ideas than I do and I think there's things I can learn from him in terms of bench management.
“I thought he was impressive in the little details that he looks for to help make adjustments and to help try and maximize the power play. He has a great passion to help individuals get better. … We were competitors in the American League and I've known him for a couple of years. I've always been impressed with his hockey knowledge, his approach and certainly impressed with his passion and loyalty.”
Torchetti was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning (1999-01), Florida Panthers (2002-04), Los Angeles Kings (2005-06), Chicago Blackhawks (2008-10) and Atlanta Thrashers (2010-11). He won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010.
He also was GM of the Detroit Vipers in 1998-99 and served as an interim NHL head coach on three occasions, compiling a 30-30-4-2 record with Florida (2003-04), Los Angeles (2005-06) and the Minnesota Wild (2015-16).
Torchetti led the Wild to a 15-11-1 record over the final 10 weeks of the regular season after coach Mike Yeo was fired and made the playoffs, losing in the first round to Dallas Stars in six games.
“Just like when I faced John in the American League, I always thought his teams were very prepared. He did a very good job of getting the matchups he wanted,” Blashill said of Torchetti's job with the Wild. “I thought they played hard for him and they had an idea of how they wanted to play. They came here in to Joe Louis at the end of season and were on the second half of a back-to-back and I thought they played efficiently and extremely hard. So certainly the job he did in Minnesota was impressive.”
Minnesota won that game, 3-2, on April 1.
“He's coached in the NHL, AHL, KHL; that's a lot of experience behind the bench in a lot of different situations and I think experience helps,” Blashill said. “I wanted somebody who had experience not just in the NHL, and preferably spent time as a head coach in the NHL, but also somebody that has vast years of experience we can draw upon and learn from. I look forward to learning lots of lessons he's had to learn throughout his career.”
Torchetti joins assistant coach Doug Houda, who will work with the defensemen and oversee the team's penalty kill, and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko, who was promoted from Grand Rapids, as the new members of Blashill's staff. Roles for non-bench assistants Pat Ferschweiler and Chris Chelios have yet to be determined.
Blashill said he, Houda and Torchetti will get together for the NHL draft later this month and periodically throughout the summer.
“We'll make sure come October we're on the same page and we're acting according to the values and the identity of how we want to play,” Blashill said.
RED WINGS COACHES
Jeff Blashill, head coach
John Torchetti, forwards, power play
Doug Houda, defensemen, penalty kill
Jeff Salajko, goalies