Blashill, new assistants use draft to build rapport

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Buffalo, N.Y. — Draft weekend is providing Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill a getting-to-know-you opportunity.

Blashill named two assistants during the offseason — Doug Houda and John Torchetti — and spending time together in Buffalo, N.Y., was a benefit of the draft festivities.

“Just getting to know each on a personal level,” Blashill said. “We all went to dinner on Wednesday night and it was a good start ... to get a feel for each other personally.”

Building a relationship and rapport, Blashill said, is most important at this point.

“Sometimes that’s more important than diving into the details of hockey,” Blashill said. “We’ll do that later on. Right now, it’s just more socially and getting comfortable with each other.”

And, just like a good team has chemistry, a coaching staff has to have the same.

“The best staffs have chemistry,” Blashill said. “It doesn’t mean you always get along or agree on everything, but you build off each other and you have to build as a cohesive unit. That’s a real good first step together.”

Wings unload Datsyuk's contract to Arizona

Blashill was searching for NHL experience to replace Tony Granato (Wisconsoin coach), and the coach believes he accomplished that goal.

“(NHL experience) is a real benefit. It was something I was looking for, a lot of years on NHL benches,” Blashill said. “I’ve only had two years on NHL benches and that’s an area I can learn from their past experiences.”

Bittersweet farewell

Blashill had a good idea Pavel Datsyuk was leaving the NHL, but it didn’t make the news any less disappointing.

“I’m disappointed I don’t get to coach him anymore, disappointed I don’t get a chance to have him on our team next season,” Blashill said of Datsyuk, who last weekend made his official decision to return to Russia be closer to family and play in the Kontinental League.

“He’s been one of the best hockey players in the NHL and best people.”

Camp absentees

Blashill is already thinking to September and training camp — and the fact almost half of his team won’t be there.

Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader (U.S.), Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall (Sweden), Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic), Alexey Marchenko (Russia), and Tomas Tatar (Europe) will play in the World Cup of Hockey during camps (Sept. 23-26).

Blashill, however, will adjust.

“We’ll change a little bit in how we do (things), how we attack training camp,” Blashill said. “We have to be real cognizant that a number of guys have been playing for a month before we get going. I have to give them some rest before we throw them into exhibition games and let them get rejuvenated.”

Twitter: @tkulfan