KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Jeff Blashill resigned as Western Michigan head coach to take an assistant coach position with the Detroit Red Wings.

“We really want to thank coach Blashill for his dedicated and passionate leadership with our student-athletes and his coaching staff. We wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to a new chapter in his professional career,” said director of athletics Kathy Beauregard. “The success we experienced and his multiple National Coach of the Year honors speaks volumes to his talent as a coach and it also speaks volumes to the hockey program we have here at Western Michigan University. We are positioned perfectly for a high profile coaching search. There has never been a better time to become our next new Bronco hockey coach.”

“We believe we have one of the top ten programs in the country and we made a decision as an institution to make our head coaching position one of the ten highest paid in college hockey,” continued Beauregard. “The hockey community is well aware of our investment in our program and we know we’re going to attract the absolute best coaching candidates throughout North America. As a director of athletics you’re always building a bench of potential coaching candidates to prepare for days like this when a head coach departs. I am already receiving inquiries, have assembled a small advisory committee and a comprehensive national search will begin immediately.”

Beauregard added, “In the wake of the changing landscape of college hockey there has been much discussion among athletic directors on the potential realignment of conferences. Our strategic plan for hockey is to position Western Michigan in the premier hockey conference in the country that aligns us to compete for a National Championship. To make this a reality, President Dunn, Coach Blashill and I have been actively involved in these discussions. We have traveled across the country to share our ‘Why Western’ story with institutions in the West, East, with Notre Dame and obviously the CCHA. We are at the table in these discussions and will make a thoughtful, strategic plan for membership options that match, high academic and hockey national prominence.”

Blashill led the Broncos to the CCHA tournament Finals and the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 1996. He finished the season with a 19-13-10 record and was named National Coach of the Year by, Inside College Hockey, College Hockey News and was a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year. Blashill also helped freshmen Danny DeKeyser and Chase Balisy to the CCHA All-Rookie Team and both were named Freshmen All-Americans by Inside College Hockey.

“Today is a very emotional day for me,” said Blashill. “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream to coach in the NHL with the best organization in sports; the Detroit Red Wings. However, it is with extreme sadness that I step down as head coach of the Western Michigan Bronco hockey team. WMU is an extremely special place with special attributes. I am certain that with the commitment the university is making to hockey, that Bronco hockey will continue on its current path of becoming an elite program nationally. My goal when I became head coach was to bring the program to national prominence and I am totally convinced that will happen very soon, regardless of my leaving.”

“I want to thank the Board of Trustees and President John M. Dunn for their commitment to me and the hockey program.  I want to thank Kathy Beauregard for giving me a great opportunity and her great leadership and passion. Kathy is a great administrator, boss, and person. WMU is very lucky to have her. Special thanks to associate athletic director Monty Porter for his guidance and friendship.”

“I would not have this opportunity without the incredible efforts of our coaching staff, support staff, and players. I was very lucky to hire two outstanding coaches, Pat Ferschweiler and Rob Facca. Both had an incredible impact on our success. Finally, a public thank you to our players, whose extraordinary commitment and effort, allowed us to have success that most thought was not possible. This great opportunity to coach for the Detroit Red Wings would not be possible without our players incredible efforts.”