Two years ago, as the Red Wings were going through training camp in Traverse City, Jeff Blashill had a pair of visitors from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in attendance.
Detroit’s coach had invited Bob Brown and his son Justin down for two reasons: First, he wanted to thank Bob for everything he’d done for him back in Sault Ste. Marie. And second, he wanted to show them the results of the impact Brown had made on him way back then.
Intentional or not, a training camp was the perfect setting for this particular “thank you.” Brown and John Ferroni were Blashill’s two most influential hockey coaches growing up, helming the bench together for some of the most formative years of his life. They won championships together, with Blashill part of a group that went on to produce seven Division I athletes from a single youth hockey team in small-town Sault Ste. Marie, where the population was less than 15,000.