Now that the Detroit Red Wings have announced the hiring of Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) coach Jeff Blashill, the process to begin filling the AHL gig is underway.

Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland says the list to replace Blashill is down to six candidates, including Toledo’s Derek Lalonde, the ECHL’s Coach of the Year. According to Holland, the interview process has already begun.

“We interviewed a couple people last week,” Holland told The Toledo Blade. “Derek Lalonde knows he is one of the candidates.”

Lalonde has not had a formal meeting with Red Wings brass yet, but that meeting is expected to happen this week.

In his first season as its coach, Lalonde led Toledo to a 58-point turnaround – the biggest in ECHL history – and the best record in the league before losing in triple overtime of game 7 in the conference finals to South Carolina.

The Walleye went 50-15-7 to become the first ECHL team to win 50 games in seven years.

Another candidate for the job, is former Oklahoma City Barons and Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd Nelson. Nelson was not retained by the Oilers after the club hired Todd McClellan as head coach.

Whoever takes Blashill’s job will have a championship-contending team. The Griffins were an AHL power during Blashill’s tenure, which included a Calder Cup championship in 2013 and the speedy development of many players who currently account for much of Detroit’s roster. The Griffins lost to Utica in the Western Conference Finals this season.

Contributing: The Toledo Blade and SportsNet

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