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Notes: Wings remain focused amid coaching changes in league this season

Erne adjusting to life as a new dad; Daley ready for return to action

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- It's been a crazy season in terms of coaching changes in the NHL.

On Wednesday, the Vegas Golden Knights fired coach Gerard Gallant, the former Red Wings forward, and replaced him with Pete DeBoer, who was fired by the San Jose Sharks earlier this season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs got rid of Mike Babcock, the New Jersey Devils let John Hynes go and the Nashville Predators fired Peter Laviolette for team performance reasons.

Hynes has since taken over in Nashville.

The Calgary Flames accepted the resignation of Bill Peters after some of his former players described physical abuse and racist slurs.

The Dallas Stars fired coach Jim Montgomery for unprofessional conduct.

With all these in-season changes, that leaves Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper, Winnipeg's Paul Maurice and Wings coach Jeff Blashill as the three longest-tenured coaches left with their teams.

"To be honest with you, for the most part, I just think of our situation here," Blashill said after Thursday's practice. "I don't really think a whole bunch about it. Most of the guys that have been fired are people that I know -- well, all people I know-- some I'm more friendly with than others. They're good coaches, Gerard's a good coach, Pete DeBoer's a good coach. They're guys I respect a lot, I just send out a note. I think it's a bit crazy in the league right now but that's the way it is right now and we'll go from there."

Although still a young player in the NHL, Wings alternate captain Dylan Larkin knows that it remains a big business.

"Unfortunately in this league, the coaches seem to be replaced first before the players, when mostly it's on the play of the players," Larkin said. "We need to be better, as everyone in this locker room and the players know that. The coaches are trying to help us be better players and evolve our game and be better as a team."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: .@Dylanlarkin39 met his buddy Michael at the Rocket Mortgage Classic over the Summer.Today, he invited him down for practice. 😊

The Golden Knights are fifth in the Pacific Division with 54 points (24-19-6), third in the Western Conference wild card standings behind the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets, but had lost four in a row.

"It's just part of the business. They're a great team," Larkin said. "Gerard's a great coach. I spent some time with him at the World Cup. He's a good guy, good coach. The thing that stands out to me is to listen to their interviews and they're saying the same thing that I'm saying. They needed to be better. The players in that room sounded sad that he's gone and he lost his job because of their play. That's really what it comes down to. I'm just kind of echoing what they said. It sounds like he was well-respected and well-liked by the guys in the room."

The Wings have been hit hard with injuries this season, particularly with long-term injuries to defenseman Danny DeKeyser and forwards Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, and most recently to goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

They sit last in the league with 27 points (12-32-3).

But Blashill has long since learned to avoid social media and outside noise.

"Certainly I appreciate the passion of our fanbase 100 percent," Blashill said. "I think our fanbase overall has an idea of where we're at in the building process, more so than when I probably first got the job. I think they understand that this nature of pro sports, if you have a salary cap and you have a draft, then the nature of pro sports is cyclical and they understand kind of where we're at in the cycle."

General manager Steve Yzerman has preached patience with the rebuilding process and he and Blashill communicate frequently.

"We talk about how our team's playing," Blashill said. "Some of that's making sure that as a team, that we're getting better in certain areas that are going to help us long-term. Certainly we look at that as a coaching staff and as the management group, what's going to help us long-term here, whether it's individual players or how we play or the areas we have to get better at. Each guy's gotta get better at different things.

"I ask his advice on how he thinks we're doing. I want his opinions on how we're playing, I want his opinions on players, I want to make sure that he's involved in that process. He's got lots of experience as a player, as a manager, seen lots of stuff."

Blashill said he and his staff work to keep the emotion out of it when evaluating the games and determining what the issues are and how to fix them.

"Not changing it every game, having a long-term approach that we need to be better at certain things and keep working at it," Blashill said. "I talked to a couple of our veteran players on the ice today and asked them, 'What did you think of the other night?' And their thought was it certainly wasn't what the score indicated. We have to be a pretty simple team. We have to get pucks behind, we have to play in the O-zone. We did that to a degree. The score gets out of hand, so sometimes that stuff gets skewed, but even the first period we did it, and we did it against Buffalo.

"So we got to accentuate the things we're doing that are going to allow us to have long-term success and we got to fix the issues that we have that once they're fixed will allow us to have long-term success. It's a process."

ERNE THE NEW DAD: It was just nine days ago that forward Adam Erne became a dad for the first time when he and his wife, Elodie, welcomed daughter, Riley Elizabeth.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Congratulations to the Erne family on the birth of their baby girl, Riley Elizabeth. 🎀🏒💕

"It was awesome," Erne said. "I guess I didn't really know what to expect. I know my wife was super prepared and I just kind of trusted that she was kind of going to teach me the way because I know that she's super good at it. She's always been good with kids and just kind of calm. She's been amazing so far."

Erne said they didn't take any Lamaze classes to prepare for Riley's arrival.

"No, we didn't do any of that stuff, to be honest with you," he said. "She just watched videos and she's always been around kids since I've been in the league. She was 19 when she started hanging around wives and had friends that had kids. So she's kind of learned how to handle it pretty well."

Erne is also handling his new role well.

"Like I said, I didn't really know what to expect but it's pretty amazing," Erne said. "You hold somebody else's baby and you're really nervous but you hold yours and it's just kind of natural. It's been pretty crazy. It doesn't seem like it's been a week but I guess it has."

Of course, getting enough sleep might be a challenge with a new baby in the house.

"It was good the first couple days but the last two days … she's used to being held and doesn't want to be put down," Erne said.

Tweet from @PR_NHL: THIS DATE IN 2004: Legendary @DetroitRedWings forward Steve Yzerman became the 7th player in NHL history to reach 1,700 career points. #NHLStatsMore TDIH:

DALEY READY TO PLAY: Both Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson have been practicing with the team for a while and are ready to play.

The Wings assigned defenseman Brian Lashoff to the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday.

Based on Thursday's practice, Daley will draw back into the lineup. He was paired with Filip Hronek in practice and worked on the second power-play unit with Givani Smith, Valtteri Filppula, Frans Nielsen and Filip Zadina.

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