Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill said Thursday he wants to succeed Mike Babcock as coach of the Detroit Red Wings.
"Yes, I want to be the next head coach of the Detroit Red Wings," Blashill told the Detroit Free Press. "An ultimate goal of mine was to become an NHL head coach; obviously, within this organization, it's a great organization to be part of."
Babcock on Wednesday left the Red Wings after 10 seasons to become coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was introduced in Toronto on Thursday, when Blashill was leading the Griffins, Detroit's top farm team, in preparation for the American Hockey League Western Conference Finals against Utica. Game 1 is Sunday.
"I just try to live my day not worrying about what might be or what could be," the 41-year-old said. "As I told our guys this morning, we are worried about what is right now. We have a special opportunity here. I believe in special moments. We are one of four teams left in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Let's focus on trying to get to that special moment that some of us were able to get to two years ago."
Babcock hired Blashill as an assistant in 2011; Blashill was named coach of Grand Rapids in 2012 and led the Griffins to the Calder Cup in his first season.
Babcock said Thursday that Blashill is "going to be the next coach of the Red Wings," according to Sportsnet.ca.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Wednesday he would meet with Blashill soon.
"Ken and I had a real short conversation [Wednesday]," Blashill told the newspaper. "It was alerting me to Mike's decision, which I knew about. He was saying, 'Let's take a time to talk, face to face,' which we have never done, regarding any potential [job]. He was living in a day-to-day world, as I'm living in a day-to-day world. We don't know when that date will be. That's all we have talked about; that's our next step."
Blashill coached current Red Wings players Joakim Andersson, Danny DeKeyser, Landon Ferraro, Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Brendan Smith and Tomas Tatar in Grand Rapids.
"He's a great coach," Tatar told the Red Wings website. "He's helping the team a lot. I think it's a really similar school to what we're doing here. It's a similar system, so guys are coming up here really ready.
"He's a good talker. He can motivate the players. I feel like the system and how he's willing to play with the players is really good. Players feel like they can talk to him. He's somebody who they can trust and feel good."
It is unknown who other candidates might be; Holland said the process of hiring a coach won't be a long one.
"I'm not going to interview eight and 10 people," he said. "I might interview one. I might interview two or three. I'll decide that in the next few days. … I believe we're going to have a good head coach."