According to a report from Sportsnet’s senior writer Chris Johnston, Hockey USA has announced that its team in the upcoming 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) World Championships will be coached by head coach Jeff Blashill of the Detroit Red Wings with assistant coaches Dan Bylsma, Don Granato and Seth Appert.
Blashill recently completed his third season behind the Red Wings bench, coaching the team to a dreadful 30-39-13 record. This season marks the second consecutive season, and the second in just 25 seasons, in which the Red Wings have failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Blashill also coached USA's disappointing 5th place finish in last year's 2017 IIHF World Championships in Paris, France.
Bylsma, a former Stanley Cup winning coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Team USA National coach, last coached in the NHL with the basement dwelling Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres failed to qualify for the playoffs in each of his two seasons behind the bench, but he did manage a successful run of six consecutive post season appearances with the Penguins. He was also the head coach of Team USA’s 2014 Olympic team in Sochi, Russia.
More on this story to come.
At least a trio of Chicago Blackhawks players have confirmed that they'll suit up for USA next month in Denmark, including superstar Patrick Kane, rookie Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Connor Murphy.
Another Hawks forward, Nick Schmaltz, has reportedly received and invitation and is considering his possibilities before accepting. It's also believed that forward Brandon Saad received an invitation, but decline due to injury and personal matter. The Blackhawks winger is getting married later this offseason, so we're willing to bet that he's got enough on his plate for one offseason.
As for USA's biggest competitor, Team Canada, Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid confirmed his intention to play for the squad, as has Oilers teammate Ryan Nugent Hopkins. They'll join Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat, Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly, New York Islanders rookie Matthew and Ottawa Senators rookie Thomas Chabot on Team Canada. It's believed that the Senators' Matt Duchene and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price have both declined their invitation to the annual tournament.